November 11, 2008
FE, N.M. - Gov. Bill Richardson traveled to Gallup High School and
Farmington High School late last month to talk with students and
Navajo leaders about the first Navajo textbook, "Diné Bizaad Binahoo'aah"
(Rediscovering the Navajo Language). This is the first time that
a text written by a Navajo author has been adopted as a textbook
for teaching the Navajo language.
textbook, written by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie, Professor of Navajo
at Northern Arizona University, and Margaret Speas, Professor of
Linguistics at University of Massachusetts, was adopted as a state
approved textbook in July. School districts may now conduct their
own reviews and selections of new texts that will be in the classroom
beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.
the Gallup and the Farmington school districts have begun to use
the new textbook this school year.
thank Dr. Parsons Yazzie and Dr. Speas for your commitment to this
project and for your dedication to helping preserve the Navajo language,"
Gov. Richardson said. "One of my first acts as governor was to sign
the state's Indian Education Act, which among other things, calls
for culturally relevant instructional materials and preserving Native
languages. Your textbook is a commitment to our Native American
students and the Navajo Nation that your language will continue."
Richardson was joined at the news conferences by Secretary of Education
Veronica C. García, Secretary of Indian Affairs Alvin H. Warren,
Navajo leaders and state legislators. During the news conferences,
students talked about their experiences using the new textbook.
this textbook, Navajo students will have the opportunity to understand
the history of their family and culture while improving their academic
achievement," García said. "Reading scores for Native American students
have increased 6 percent over the last four years. We have also
increased the number of Native American teachers and administrators
by 15 percent in the last four years Language is the key to education
goals, and Dr. Parsons Yazzie and Professor Speas have provided
a resource for students to better understand language and cultural
Mexico has made great strides towards improving the quality of education
for Indian students in the state and providing competitive access
to economic opportunity, and prosperity," Warren added.
Parsons Yazzie and Professor Speaks have made a huge contribution
to the preservation of the Navajo language, a gift to future generations."
are eight Native American languages are taught in New Mexico public
schools with over 5,000 in Navajo language classes. The textbook
will provide resources to teachers of Navajo language and also supports
the 2007 Amended Indian Education Act, which calls for ensuring
culturally relevant instructional materials.