For information on the reopening of Navajo Nation schools, click here
News and Announcements from DODE Admin

The mood was festive at the Quality Inn as Navajo Nation leaders, Department of Diné Education leaders and staff, and family and friends gathered to commemorate this year’s students who received the Navajo Nation Seal of Bilingual Proficiency.

The Navajo Nation Seal of Bilingual Proficiency Assessment is for graduating High School seniors who can fluently read, write, and speak the Diné language. The assessment is offered by DODE’s Office of Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment Development during the spring semester each year with students who demonstrate proficiency being awarded the seal near the end of the school year.

This year’s recipients of the Navajo Nation Seal of Bilingual Proficiency are:

  1. Chinle High School Latrisha Honie
  2. Ganado Unified School Dempsey Claw
  3. Farmington High School Mitchell Edd
  4. Navajo Preparatory School Landon Succo
  5. Navajo Preparatory School Jordyn Paul
  6. Navajo Preparatory School Orion King
  7. Navajo Preparatory School Ronin Hathale
  8. Navajo Preparatory School Natalie Cly
  9. Navajo Preparatory School Kambreya Dinae
  10. Navajo Preparatory School Michael Norwood
  11. Page High School Bryce Williams
  12. Window Rock High School Corey Owens

Acting Superintendent of Schools Roy Tracy welcomed and congratulated the students by discussing how difficult it is to perpetuate and maintain the Diné language, but that there are good reasons to do so anyway.

“By about 2060 is when they’re saying our language will no longer be practiced. We have head start students speaking Navajo, so we have to keep that up,” Tracy said.

The Acting Superintendent spoke about building on the education foundations that are currently in place that are the result of the Treaty of 1868. He said that we can reevaluate those systems and build on them to make learning and sharing our knowledge with future generations.

“[My advice is] go to college, trade school, maintain our culture, and be involved. We can’t forget about our Diné language, storytellers, and traditionalists…. This award is honorable, but it’s more honorable if you can continue your development of our language. We want you to keep it viable in our community and nation,” Tracy said.

Health, Education, and Human Services Committee Chair and Council Delegate Honorable Vince James shared a statistic about how nearly two-thirds of the people currently living on the Navajo Nation are able to speak the language fluently.

“You as our young ones are part of that number. You that are learning the Navajo language, I want to see you guys carry that on so that number continues to grow,” James said. “Take care of your Navajo language, and I thank you for taking the time to learn the Navajo language. Keep continuing to learn.”

Arizona School Boards Association President Desiree Fowler spoke to students about the difficulties in continuing to support the Navajo language from learning the language to dealing with external opposition. But she added that to keep going means there will be more challenges to overcome, one that she issued to each recipient of the award.

“All of you, continue to stand strong. Stand your ground. No matter how many times they say you can’t, you can keep going,” Fowler said.

Council Delegate Honorable Dr. Andy Nez spoke about his experiences working with DODE to present the seal to students in past years and how it was always an exciting feeling. He praised the diverse group of students who want to learn from their families and shared advice to all of them as they prepare to step into a larger world.

“Students can make mistakes. Don’t ridicule our students who are trying their best to learn the Navajo language every day…. And students, don’t miss out on any opportunities because of your shyness. There is a whole world out there, don’t let it allow you to miss an opportunity due to your shyness,” Dr. Nez said.

As part of receiving the award, each student was given the opportunity to share a song or story with the audience, as well as to thank them in a brief speech. Emotions ran high as students thanked their families and teachers, and even shared their own advice.

“Keep striving to talk Navajo. Receiving this award doesn’t mean you stop speaking the language. Keep speaking Navajo,” Navajo Prep student Michael Norwood said.

Cody M. Begaye
Senior Public Information Officer
Department of Diné Education Administration