Crownpoint, NM – On November 21, 2017, student veterans at Navajo Technical University were honored for their service with a special luncheon that paid tribute to the Navajo Code Talkers. The university administration came together for the event, “Operation: Appreciation,” which acknowledged 18 students and 9 faculty and staff members who served in all branches of the military. Alongside them were four of the 13 remaining Navajo Code Talkers, who were in attendance to receive special recognition and to share the history and importance of their efforts during World War II.
“It was a memorable occasion for all the veterans who were in attendance. We embrace them and owe them much gratitude for what they have done for our country,” said Daniel Vandever, Communications Director at NTU. “We’re aiming to leverage this event to develop a veterans resource center on campus that will keep our students connected, and most importantly stay active with special events and activities we sponsor for them.”
At the ceremony, Navajo Code Talker Association President, Peter McDonald Sr., spoke about the importance and the role of the Navajo language in World War II. He discussed how the Navajo language distinguishes the Navajo people and that it must continue to be spoken and learned. Thomas H. Begay also sang the Marine hymn in the Navajo language and displayed an oral history video on his experience as a Code Talker. Navajo Code Talkers who also attended the special occasion were Joe Vandever, Sr. and Alfred Newman.
“This was an impressive event and a most supportive gesture, NTU continues to demonstrate its appreciation for veterans,” said Ron Begay, Marine Corps Veteran and Safety Officer at Navajo Technical University “The Navajo Code Talkers have a special place in our history, and here on the Navajo Nation they represent the valor of our culture and heritage.”
Photographer Kenji Kawano displayed photographs of the Navajo Code Talkers in a walkthrough photo gallery as an added value to the event. Attendees were given a glimpse of photographs that were taken over the last several decades. The four Code Talkers who attended the ceremony received a blanket and bow guard as a special recognition. Student veterans were given a certificate and an Amazon Fire Tablet, while the staff veterans were given a plaque.
Operation: Appreciation was held in conjunction with events that were held on campus to celebrate Indigenous Cultural Heritage Month. The university scheduled numerous activities and events that brought awareness and recognition of the diverse, indigenous cultures from around the world.
For more information about Operation: Appreciation and the events at NTU contact the Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org
Crownpoint, NM – On December 8, 2017, Navajo Technical University will confer its fourth graduate degree when Warlance Chee of Lake Valley, NM receives his Master of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language & Leadership. In total, NTU will be awarding 162 degrees and certificates, including 95 certificates, 47 associate degrees, 19 baccalaureate degrees, and Chee’s M.A. degree.
“[NTU’s M.A. program] is a remarkable program and we’re fortunate to be a part of this unique graduate program designed for students who want to perpetuate the Navajo language and culture,” said Chee, who is Tsé Nahabiłnii born for Kinłichíi’nii. “This is the only program of its kind in any direction and it continues to grow alongside its cohort of students.”
On November 29, 2017, Chee presented and defended his thesis titled, “Developing Navajo Thought and Speech: Navajo Centered Research Frameworks, Methodologies, Methods and Narrative Inquiries.” Within his thesis he explored various methods to teach Navajo students the language, and he often drew on his experiences working as an educator teaching school age children to inform his topic.
“Its important to find ways of how are we going to use our teachings, stories, songs, prayers and our own Navajo ways of thinking and planning to our Navajo students,” explained Chee, who cited educational models like the cornstalk model and cradleboard to reinforce his message. “There are teaching and research frameworks that are there for us to develop fluency for our children.”
Chee is currently a Navajo language teacher at Tohajilee Elementary School where he helps implements the Navajo language in classroom curriculum. Prior to his experience in Tohajiilee, he taught at Cuba Elementary School where he learned about the Master’s program at NTU while attending a regional conference. Chee soon applied and was accepted into the program where he thrived in his coursework.
“Mr. Chee came into the program in the fall of 2015 and is a high achieving student and is very knowledgeable with Navajo culture.” said Dr. Wesley Thomas, Graduate Dean and Professor in the School of Diné Studies at NTU. “His presentation and defense was outstanding, and with his experience as a teacher, he brings new ideas on how to improve current teaching methods of the Navajo language.”
NTU graduated its first master’s student in Diné Culture Language and Leadership in Fall 2016 when Perry James of Continental Divide, NM received his degree. The university has since strengthened the program and has begun to take the initial steps in implementing a doctorate program. Currently, Dr. Thomas has been collaborating with professionals from other universities to learn more about language teaching methodologies, which would help broaden its appeal globally.
To Learn more about NTU’s Diné Studies graduate program at Navajo Technical University contact Dr. Wesley Thomas at email@example.com. For more information about NTU’s Fall Commencement contact Dean Jerlynn Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Friday, December 8, 2017, NTU will be hosting its 38th Fall Commencement at 10 AM in the Wellness Center and will be issuing 162 degrees and certificates, including 95 certificates, 47 associate degrees, 19 baccalaureate degrees, and 1 masters degree.
Below is a graph that shows the number of degrees and certificates NTU has been conferring over the past ten years, which will only grow at the end of the week. A big thank you to Mathematics major Homer Keith and the NTU Data & Assessment Office for providing the graph.