Navajo Prayer

October 18, 1999

Source: The Arizona Republic

On October 18, 1999, The Arizona Republic published an article by a Navajo journalist who reflected on Navajo prayer and the loss of the Navajo language. For Navajos, words uttered during a prayer of protection are powerful, but the author recollects a recent event when she couldn't remember a certain Navajo word because her language was slipping. "Many urban Navajos are losing their language as they move to cities and speak English. Nuances, meaning, and pronunciation that once came easily evaporate as one becomes fluent in English...Many of us aren't teaching Navajo to our children. We just don't have the time, or the inclination." The author is aware of certain cases where Navajo medicine men have turned away young Navajo patients because they can't speak the words to prayers. The author decided to not teach Navajo to her young daughter because she wanted her daughter to avoid the same difficulties with English that she had growing up.