Departmental Bulletin Paper The Language of the Navajo: Will It Exist in 30 Years?

Landsberry, Lauren

The way the Navajo community has been treated through the colonialism of the European settlers, amounts to virtual cultural genocide. Here we examine the Navajo’s major institutions, typical domains for the use of the Navajo language, and their access to language maintenance resources, as we consider the likelihood of the language surviving the next 30 years. Colonialism and its contempt for indigenous languages brought with it assimilationist policies, including punishment for speaking the native Navajo language, and a policy of “English only” education. The resulting loss of language produced a corresponding loss of identity for many Navajo, and resulted in immense suffering amongst the Navajo people. Despite international recognition by powerful groups, and a movement to encourage the preservation of the language, federal policies and laws have failed to support these policies, and this raises serious questions about the survival of the Navajo language.

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