In 2014 Spring Semester, NTU's School of Graduate Studies & Research began a Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language & Leadership. The total graduate credit hours are 39. A bachelor degree is required prior to admission and other documentations, i.e., Certificate of Indian Blood (CIB) for tribal eligibility, three letters of recommendation, a 500-word essay and so forth.
All of the classes are face-to-face and are on-site at the University located in Crownpoint. The chance of offering on-line classes is slim to none due to the necessity of using Navajo language. Most of the classes are held during day-time with exception of one or two offered in the evening. It is a full-semester program and can be completed in two-year time period, providing you attend one or both summer(s).
Currently, there are no institutions anywhere in the United States that offers a Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language and Leadership. There is a strong need to provide such a degree at this time for Navajo people and others interested in its culture, since the Navajo Nation is in the process of experiencing a dying language. The lost will undermine every aspect of its culture. This new degree program will be Navajo Technical University’s contribution to retention, preservation, revitalization and continuation of Navajo culture and language. Graduates will be able to teach the culture and/or language to their kin, in their communities, at educational facilities, place of employment or at various gathering of Navajo people. It further will assist in the refinement of Navajo leadership through the use of traditional cultural knowledge, its philosophy and language in this program.
The M.A. degree needs to be part of a requirement by Navajo tribal government for all employees in leadership positions to be conversant in the Navajo language. Fewer and fewer people are eligible to work for the Navajo Nation because of this requirement. At this time, this is not strictly enforced by the Nation and has converted to English language as its main means of communication which has distanced traditionalists from their own tribal government.
Since the Navajo Nation is one of the poorest areas in the United States, tribal and other government jobs are often the only jobs available to those Navajo who want to continue to live on the Reservation. In addition, the Chief Manuelito scholarships available to high school students who want to pursue baccalaureate degree require their high school facility with Navajo language and a high degree of Navajo cultural knowledge.
Dr. Wesley Thomas, Interim Director of Graduate Studies & Research
PhD, University of Washington--Seattle
MA, University of Washington--Seattle
BA, University of Washington--Seattle
AA, Navajo Community College, Tsaile, AZ