Navajo Language Academy

General Information

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The Navajo Language Academy, Inc.




The Navajo Language Academy, a non-profit educational organization devoted to the scientific study and promotion of the Navajo language. The NLA has hosted Navajo linguistics workshops for scholars every summer since 1997. In years when we are well funded, in addition to providing a collegial atmosphere for scholars, we offer theoretical and applied linguistics courses for Navajo language teachers. The NLA is unusual among First Nations linguistics groups in that a number of our members are native speakers who have advanced degrees in linguistics.

The name Navajo Language Academy is fairly new, but the group it represents has worked together since the early 1970s to further the goals of Navajo language scholarship and to strengthen the position of the Navajo language at all levels.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, members of the NLA helped to organize and to teach summer Navajo linguistics workshops at various locations in the Navajo Nation including Hunter's Point, Rough Rock, Tohatchi, Kin Òich¶¶', and Navajo Community College, Tsaile.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, members of the NLA taught in summer workshops sponsored by the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI) at Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona, Tucson.

In July 1996, William Morgan and Robert Young were honored in the Navajo Nation Council Chambers for their important work on the Navajo language. At that time, these two scholars were presented Pendleton Blankets embroidered with the seal of the Navajo Nation by four members of the NLA: Alyse Neundorf, Ellavina Perkins, Paul Platero, and MaryAnn Willie.

Shortly after this ceremony, a meeting was held, with members of the Navajo community present, to discuss the formation of the Navajo Language Academy. In December of that year, another meeting was held at Diné College, Tsaile (then Navajo Community College) at which it was resolved to form the Navajo Language Academy and to plan a workshop to be conducted during the summer of 1997 at Diné College.

In the summer of 1987, members of the NLA met at Diné College, Tsaile, with the dual purpose of (a) reviewing recent development in theoretical linguistics and its application to the study of Navajo grammar, and (b) beginning the preparation of this book.

In the summer of 1998, members of the NLA met at Rehoboth Christian School (Rehoboth, New Mexico) to continue work on the book begun the previous summer and to complete two additional projects: 1) formal incorporation of the Navajo Language Academy, and 2) the preparation and submission of a proposal to the Navajo Nation for funding for a full summer program for the advanced training of Navajo teachers in Navajo language scholarship, curriculum development, and research. The funding was granted and in July 1999 the NLA Institute convened at Rehoboth. During July 2000, members of the NLA met at Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania) to complete the present volume and to plan the 2001 NLA Institute.


How is the NLA different from other organizations?

The NLA does not duplicate the work of the Division of Diné Education, Diné College, or the Navajo Language Teachers Association. Like these organizations, we support Navajo language education. However, the NLA approach is to teach people how to do scientific research on the Navajo language, to discover the rules and principles underlying the grammar. Diné College offers undergraduate courses in speaking and writing Navajo and in using the Young & Morgan dictionary.

Our work covers complicated areas of grammar that are beyond the scope of courses offered elsewhere. Our courses teach students how to apply the scientific method to language studies, allowing them to build analytical skills, something not emphasized at other institutions.


Navajo Language Academy, Inc.
P.O. Box 5411
Window Rock, AZ 86515
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