University of Arizona students put on a play entirely in the Navajo language

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Sunday, November 21, 2021 - 6:04pm
Updated: Monday, November 22, 2021 - 9:10am

UA intermediate Navajo class
Leslie Epperson/UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Students in the intermediate Navajo class at University of Arizona's College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Students in the University of Arizona’s intermediate Navajo language class are putting on “Back to the Rez,” a play about identity and cultural knowledge, done entirely in Diné Bizaad, the Navajo language.

Aresta Tsosie-Paddock, who teaches the class, added the play to her curriculum four years ago.

She says the yearly play is a great way for students to connect to the language while also being creative and telling stories of their own experience.

It’s important, she says, “to know that this is going towards retaining, revitalization of the language, and to see that these students really want to learn.”

Tsosie-Paddock says the Navajo culture is embedded within Diné Bizaad, and teaching young Navajo people the language allows them to connect with their elders, as well as pass the language down to future generations.

“Back to the Rez” will be performed at UA on Monday, Nov. 22.

Aresta Tsosie-Paddock
Nividita Chatani/UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Aresta Tsosie-Paddock

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