Tuba City, AZ - As part of Tuba City Unified School District's
mission to incorporate daily cultural activity and Native language
into the curriculum, the district recognizes the hard work students
put in using their tribal language in classroom activity and school
accept awards for outstanding Native language work in December
At a Jan. 13 evening award ceremony, Ella Bedonie, one of the
Primary School's Navajo language teachers said she wanted to thank
all the parents and grandparents who speak daily Navajo or Hopi
language to their kids.
"I tell the students, go home and practice your new language
lessons with your families," she said. "Sometimes the
parents say, 'we are learning from our children' and these conversation
homework exchanges with their tribal language is just so important.
It helps reinforce and strengthen what we are doing in our classrooms
and it shows the students that their language is very important,
that it's a sacred thing to keep our languages alive."
The award ceremony took place at Tuba City Primary School and
recognized outstanding tribal language classroom work during September,
October, November and December.
School administrators honored the students with wooden engraved
plaques. Traditional Navajo food, mutton with dumplings and frybread,
was served. Navajo songstresses Mya Keeswood, a student at Tuba
City High, and Krishel Augustine, former Miss Teen Navajo Nation
2013-14, entertained the crowd.
Tuba City Primary Princess Moneka Boone stands with award
ceremony keynote speaker Louise Yellowman, a former Tuba City
teacher and a retired Coconino County Supervisor.
Former Tuba City teacher and former Coconino County Supervisor
Louise Yellowman gave the keynote address. She spoke about her personal
journey to help foster tribal language programs in the Tuba City
and Gap-Bodaway areas in the 1960s and how she came to learn how
important her Navajo language would be in serving her community
and her tribe in the political realm later in life.
"Never forget your grandmother and grandfather," Yellowman
said "It's because of them that we have these successful language
programs today. Many of our parents and grandparents could not speak
English, so we had to communicate with them in our own tribal language
and its because of that love for them we needed to express our work
or play activity, ceremonial activity and even daily chores using
our tribal language."
Yellowman added it is good the students are encouraged to use
both Navajo and Hopi languages in their classroom and are practicing
"Speaking our tribal language also reminds us to be kind
and patient with one another," she said. "We don't have
bad or dirty words in our tribal speech. There is always respect
shown when speaking our language. There are appropriate names for
our relatives and we recognize those tribal affiliations when we
speak our own language. This reminds the students to be respectful
to each other and their families and teachers and that is a wonderful
way to share and show them how to be good responsible adults."
Royd Lee, a Navajo language teacher in his second year of teaching
at Tuba City Primary expressed his appreciation for all the support
and interest that parents and grandparents have shown their students.
"Teaching our students every day, this is like a partnership
between the teachers and the parents and grandparents to help the
students do the very best they can," Lee said. "When we
have that family support, it makes all the difference in a student's
success at their school work."
Dennis Bedonie served as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
Tuba City Primary principal Sharlene Navajo helped hand out the
awards to each student for the winter months.
For September Racheal Yellowman, Bennie Sandoval, Katherine
Nez, Gilbert Talashoma, Kelly Self-Williams, Emmanuel Curley, Shanique
Yazzie, Malik Bennett, Danielle Begay, Evette Nockideneh, D'Maree
Smith, Kylie Knowles, Miara Bilgody, Jordan Adson-White, Maria Macaraig
and Lillian Black earned awards.
For October Wilthbah Kenton, Treydon Arizona, Danielle Kanuho,
Bodi Dugi, Myron Luther, Josh Goldtooth, Anna Begay, Marisol Bustamante,
Marai Bilagody, Jerin Yazzie, Shea Descheenie, Kirresha Claw, Eriana
Begaye, Moneka Boone and Keyon Jenson earned awards.
For November Arianna Bracker, Kaleeah Tilden, Lauren Fowler,
Jovan Duran, Javier Akee, Kiyana Reed, Jasmine Schmidt, HeVander
Watson, Teton Martinez, Universe Ignacio, LawShawn Begay, Dylan
Smith, Audrey Tallsalt, Randy Betsuie, Julie Esquivel and Tikari
Draper earned awards.
For December Tari Sky Carroll, Willow Claw, Oliver Cortez, Seyana
Maswiestewa, Isaiah Gomez, Charleston Begay, Nicole Descheenie,
Aliyah Daw, Manson Nockideneh, JaJuan Zohnnie, Kaydence Byjoe, Angel
Chan, Dusterena Whitehair, Angelina Esquivel, Arika Begay and Jaiden
Betsuie earned awards.
Yellowman concluded her speech to the crowd by saying, "We
must always remember, our Native words are powerful. They are sacred
because they remind us that these words hold our history and our