Each morning, college students within the sprawling San Juan Faculty District in Utah place their proper arms over their hearts and recite a pledge.


Regardless of two centuries of causes to not honor the American flag, not one of the college students — almost all Native American — have ever opted out.


They usually all recite the phrases in Navajo:


“To The Sacredness of Our Flag. From the land of the 50 United States of America. We pledge our allegiance to God and our flag. It stands for hope and compassion. We stand united as Individuals of all cultures on our beloved land. We’re preserved by the facility of peace and concord.”


It’s a second of patriotism, aspiration and deep respect for the land — all spoken in a language that existed properly earlier than our nation did.


“We translated [the Pledge of Allegiance], and now we are saying it for the US flag, and likewise for the Navajo Nation flag,” mentioned Clayton Lengthy, the bilingual training director for this sprawling college district situated partially inside the Navajo Nation Reservation.


The each day recital is a part of Lengthy’s efforts for over 1 / 4 of a century to revive his Native American language. Amazingly, many Native American youngsters develop up not realizing the right way to converse their tribal language. Now 65, Lengthy was raised in a house that solely spoke Navajo, which impressed him to make educating the language his life’s calling.


“My work has all the time been aimed toward our younger folks. They’re those who maintain the important thing to the preservation of our language, and different elements of our tradition,” Lengthy mentioned.


College students at San Juan Faculty District in Utah say the Pledge of Allegiance within the Navajo tongue.Justin Merriman

The San Juan Faculty District is made up of over 3,000 college students, over half of whom are Navajo, whereas the remaining is a mixture of Ute, Hispanic and white college students. Apparently, it was trendy expertise that allowed Lengthy to double down on his efforts to show an historic language, not simply to the youngsters in his college district, however anybody past its limits.


This summer time builders on the well-liked language app Duolingo noticed Lengthy’s YouTube channel on Navajo classes. A consultant from Duolingo contacted Lengthy and requested if he may adapt his programs for his or her app.


Lengthy agreed and is now utilizing the app to show his personal children. As a result of this system prompts college students to translate phrases from English into Navajo utilizing acquainted expertise, it places the language classes within the arms of the scholars. On the similar time, college students are serving to develop the teachings, which are actually accessible to Duolingo’s 300 million customers.


“This collaboration is a dream come true as a result of it reaches younger folks, it makes them the leaders, but it surely additionally exposes the world to our language and our tales in a approach I may have by no means completed,” Lengthy mentioned.


“Duolingo, which started seven years in the past as a Spanish-English app, now has over 90 language programs, and Navajo is the primary Native American tongue to be picked as a part of their program, mentioned app consultant Mara Awodey.


Luis von Ahn launched the Pittsburgh-based Duolingo after he offered his second high-tech firm to Google, which positioned the Guatemalan-born laptop scientist in a reasonably lucky place. “I mainly wouldn’t must work anymore. What I wished to do was one thing associated to my ardour, which has all the time been training and language,” he mentioned.


It’s a ardour deeply appreciated by the educators within the San Juan Faculty District.


“Those that spoke the language within the mid-19th century had been compelled into talking English by the federal authorities,” mentioned Charlotta Lacey, who has taught Navajo underneath Lengthy for 3 years. Now younger folks “are the leaders within the motion” to revitalize the language.


Lengthy is hoping to increase his program to extra faculties all through the nation. So far as he is aware of, simply three different American faculties — all in Arizona — train Navajo to children.


“We’ve got began to speak to different college districts inside the Navajo reservation to contain different academics and college students within the growth of different Duolingo mini-lessons,” mentioned Lengthy.


“Hopefully I’m round lengthy sufficient to see… some extra concepts that move from this. I can see new songs, new dances…” he mentioned, his voice trembling with emotion. “All People are treasures, and once you treasure one thing, you wish to protect it. You wish to make it final so long as attainable. If the youngsters can see that that’s attainable, we’ll final for a very long time.”




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