Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts

Navajo language, traditions are celebrated at this school
Bilingual » Students see value in keeping culture alive.
First Published Feb 15 2014 11:16 pm • Last Updated Feb 16 2014 08:45 pm

Editor’s note: This story accompanies a look at efforts to transform Monument Valley High School. Read the main story here.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Dorothy Bigman, one of Monument Valley High’s first graduates, now teaches its students the Navajo language using the tribe’s wealth of games and songs.

After one class, in which three girls play a shoe game against three boys, Bigman teaches a class with just two students: Caitlyn Black and Richelle Sloan.

Black reads aloud a story she has written in Navajo about a big, strong deer. She says she wants to master her native language so she’ll be more valuable in the health care industry.

"They’ll want Navajo speakers to translate," says Black, a junior who hopes to attend the University of Utah and eventually become a pediatrician. She speaks Navajo with her grandmother at home.

Monument Valley High also has a Navajo culture teacher, and a hogan beside the school provides a traditional space for ceremonies, such as when a medicine man sought healing for a teacher seriously injured in a collision last fall.

Each summer, the school hosts ‘Ndahoo’ahh, a two-week cultural program showcasing Navajo crafts.

Bigman graduated from Monument Valley in 1985, two years after the school opened, and returned as a teacher 16 years ago after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

Even students such as Sloan, who didn’t earn Navajo while growing up in Tuba City, Ariz., pick up the language fast, says Bigman.

story continues below
story continues below

Sloan, a senior, came to Monument Valley to live with the family of her boyfriend a year ago, after their son was born.

His parents insisted she learn Navajo, and she’s happy they did.

"It’s part of us," she says. "When you speak Navajo, you feel whole, like part of you is not missing."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.