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Ádahooníłígíí or “occurrences in the area/current events” : A Navajo Newsletter

June 8, 2011

“In our modern world rapid, accurate exchange of information is of vital importance. At one time the Navajo could exist as a nation within our nation speaking only their own language and shut off from outside influences. Today all of the Navajo people need information and a system of accurate intercommunication in keeping with the times. Only a written language can meet the requirements.”
– Talking Navajo Before You Know It, 1954

Example of Newsletter

At one point in time the Indian Bureau was working hard to teach older Navajos how to read in Navajo. They did this by publishing a newsletter and distributing it to the Navajo reservation chapter houses for everyone to practice reading. It was published and distributed in the 40’s and early 50’s according to the Wikipedia article. So that would make at least 50-100 newsletters? I was thinking perhaps more, but I am unsure of when it was first published. But at least 25-50 from a few years of publishing. That is still a lot of reading content.

When I first read about this I had my doubts. I have many times been with my parents driving around the reservation who were at times unable to read a Navajo sign correctly. This was strange to me because they can speak Navajo and read English perfectly. However, they having less exposure to reading in Navajo than I … I was pretty sure that this program was probably unsuccessful. My other reasoning, for its failure, was that I had never heard of this program before.

It wasn’t until I came across the  Talking Navajo Before You Know It booklet that I actually became informed about Ádahooníłígíí. I was so bummed to think that there was this periodical that no longer exists that could have been such a great resource for learning Navajo vocabulary. Sad. I read on in the introductory pages of the Talking Navajo booklet and they did give an account of its’ success.

“Sometime ago a young Navajo came into the office to subscribe to Ádahooníłígíí. He said that in the past he had thought the Navajo language program worthless. However, that weekend he had been to his father’s hogan far in the interior. The young people were discussing the age of President Eisenhower. One said this and another that, but the elderly father said emphatically a certain figure. The children said, “How do you know, since you have no way of learning? You cannot read, and never go anywhere.” The father said, “I can read Navajo.” He got his paper and read to the group the article, “Meet the New President”, in which the President’s age was given.”

Well, since I have learned about this….I think I might go ahead and actually try to locate these newsletters. I found a search result in my local university library titled, “Navajo Newsletter”. I doubt it could be the same, but it is a good starting point.

Copies of Ádahooníłígíí would be great to find. Does anyone else have ideas of where I should look? I guess I could ask the Office of Indian Affairs.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 3:19 am

    And perhaps you should think about beginning a new newsletter? Are there regularly updated Navajo language materials, blogs in Navajo, etc? If not, then there is a need right? Keep up the great work!

    • June 14, 2011 9:34 am

      Exactly right. That seems like a direction I want to pursue. :) I’ve already begun the process for a personal blog in Navajo. I have also been informed that one of my readers is also going to start a blog as well. I’ll be sure to add a blogroll to keep everyone informed.

  2. Kam permalink
    June 17, 2011 11:37 am

    That’s great! I am sure that they are copies floating around. I know what it’s like to go on a wild goose chase for text.

  3. July 13, 2011 10:22 am

    You should look at the UNM library or the Navajo Nation Museum library. Also, don’t forget there are many Navajo language films out there!

    • July 13, 2011 11:48 am

      I actually have found a decades worth of newsletters on microfilm through UNM. I’ve requested it via interlibrary loan to be scanned. I am figuring out if there is any copyright or other concerns about sharing it with my audience.

  4. July 13, 2011 11:59 am

    There’s a slight chance it was published officially by the Navajo Service/BIA. If so, that’s government, and there would be no copyright issues as it would be in the public domain (disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer).

  5. Tacey permalink
    July 21, 2011 5:47 pm

    Re: Adahooniligii

    Hi Krystal,

    My dad brought home the Navajo Times today and when I saw your face, I was like, “Hey, I know her!” Congratulations on the success of your blog! I’m glad to hear of your strengthened resolve to learn the language; such is the case for many Dine people our age. And I’m glad to see you taking it beyond Sis. Preston’s class. :)

    Let me know if things don’t work out with UNM’s interlibrary loan. I have also requested through my university, Cornell, for a copy of Adahoonilighii. I’ll let you know if and when they get in.

    Hope you are well!

    • July 30, 2011 10:57 am

      Hey Tacey! Thank you for commenting. I did get a hold of UNM’s copy of Adahooniilighii. They only have half of the years that were actually printed. A friend of mine gave me a really good idea to obtain the rest. I will let you know if it works out. =)

  6. July 26, 2011 11:15 pm

    The Language Library at the University of New Mexico has many, many recordings in Navajo of ceremonies and the Language Lab as well. I wonder if we could start a movement to secure funding to get Navajo on Rosetta subsidized for Native students? I feel a revolution and I appreciate your efforts. Ahe’hee’ !!

    • July 30, 2011 11:14 am

      I am thinking about visiting the UNM library sometime in the future. I would like to see what they have available.

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