The intent of the Native Language Preservation Strategy is to provide opportunities for Native American children from birth to age 5, not enrolled in kindergarten, and their families to support their connection to and understanding of their language and culture. It provides opportunities for Native American families and children to understand their own culture, language and connection to the tribal community.
Funding Plan Highlights
The Navajo Nation Regional Partnership Council is moving forward to fund the Native Language Preservation Strategy to support all strategies in the Navajo language. Due to the decreasing trend in Navajo fluency among children, preservation of the Navajo language is of the utmost importance to the regional council. The most recent Navajo Head Start Early Childhood Primary Language survey conducted in 2015 indicated 4% of children are bilingual in English and Navajo. Ninety-six percent of children were non-Navajo speakers and spoke only English at home. Key informants interviewed as part of the First Things First Center-Based Early Learning survey indicated that the low proportion of children who are able to speak Navajo fluently is a concern in the region. While there are many Navajo language opportunities for adults attending college and grade school children within the region, there are little to no opportunities for children from birth to age 5. As a result of this concern, the Native Language Preservation subcommittee of the regional council was formed and met for the past two years to determine the strategic direction for language preservation. Through information gathering, presentations from Navajo language content experts and discussion, the subcommittee identified an immediate opportunity to build upon an existing strategy that serves families with children birth to age 5. A user guide for families and professionals was identified as being needed to accompany the existing Navajo Nation Early Literacy Kit distribution. Kit distribution is currently funded through the Parent Outreach and Awareness Strategy. In addition to supporting the Navajo Nation Early
Literacy Kit, the Native Language Preservation Strategy will also be implemented by the regional council to survey parents about their interest in supporting their young child’s Native language development.
White Mountain Apache Tribe
In addition to the funded, programmatic strategies, the regional council is engaged in unfunded, system-building work in the areas of early language and literacy for Native Language Preservation. Throughout the community, there is great interest to support the use of the Apache language and uphold the Apache way of life. A group of community volunteers convened by the FTF regional director meets monthly to discuss early childhood and the Apache language. This group is currently working toward developing children books in the Apache language. Those involved in the group include the Fort Apache Culture Center staff, Apache language teachers, the regional librarian for the White Mountain Apache Tribe, regional council members and elders from the community. (Postponed due to COVID-19 Pandemic.)
Find more details about strategies related to Language, Literacy and Culture in the FTF Strategy Toolkit.