- Jerica Holiday's grandmother, a Kayenta, Ariz., resident, speaks
only Navajo. Jerica,
10, grew up speaking English and struggles to communicate with her
two short generations, a native language nearly was lost.
don't know that much," said Jerica, a fourth-grade student
at Kirtland Elementary School. "I know my clans and the numbers,
but that's all."
and her father, Albert Holiday, were the lone attendees Tuesday
of a Navajo language class hosted by the Central Consolidated School
District and geared toward students and their parents.
goal, teacher Veda Glover said, is to teach the native language
to the young generation and rejuvenate interest among the parents.
don't want our language to die," she said. "Our kids don't
even know how to introduce themselves."
traditional Navajo introduction includes a person's name, maternal
and paternal clans and other information about a person's origins.
a teacher at Ruth N. Bond Elementary School in Kirtland, has taught
bilingual Navajo classes for 12 years.
believe this was my destiny," she said. "I think it's
important to teach because young parents are illiterate in writing
and reading Navajo."
classes include reading, writing and speaking the native language.
She is one of three teachers in the district to offer free classes
during November to any district students and their parents or guardians.
The classes run every Tuesday night in three locations across the
Holiday said he learned Navajo by spending weekends and vacations
with family in Monument Valley, Utah, yet he still struggles during
conversations with native speakers.
a scale of one to 10, I'm about a seven," he said. "I
know a little, but a class like this might help me explain it to
also attended to provide moral support to his daughter, who recited
the alphabet and introduced herself by clan in Navajo. Albert mouthed
the words with his daughter and nodded when she remembered glottal
sounds with letters.
said she eventually wants to speak her language fluently.
important to me so I can talk to my grandma," she said. "So
she will understand what I'm talking about."