Navajo Nation President Begaye Thanks JOM Programs for Keeping Native Languages Vital

During the NJOMA conference held at the Albuquerque Marriott, President Russell Begaye reinforced the importance of teaching traditional languages to young students.

Published April 29, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE – On Thursday, Apr. 27, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye acknowledged Native American educators as protectors of culture in their efforts to help Native American students retain and revitalize tribal languages.

The president presented the keynote address at the National Johnson O’Malley Association (JOM) conference held today at the Albuquerque Marriott in Albuquerque, N.M.

“We need to make sure that we protect the JOM programs within schools as they open the door to language revitalization efforts and place value on our traditional cultures,” President Begaye said.

The JOM Act of 1934 authorized contracts for the education of eligible Indian students enrolled in public schools and previously private schools. Local JOM programs contain educational objectives addressing the needs of the eligible American Indian and Alaska Native students.

JOM programs offered to American Indian and Alaskan Native students include programs of culture, language, academics and dropout prevention.

“If you want your child to succeed at the highest level, while they’re young, teach them Navajo and English,” President Begaye said. “Our language provides our children a different perspective of the world, which is very different and beneficial.”

President Begaye also encouraged public and BIA schools to make sure the meals provided to students are healthy and not fatty. To address this, the president has advocated to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assist the Navajo Nation in regionalizing food distribution to local schools.

“We need to have the traditional foods we grow integrated into our public school food programs. Our schools should have grass fed Navajo sheep on the menus for our school children as well,” he said.

JOM programs in schools on and bordering the Navajo Nation have implement programs like: Navajo Spelling Bee, Navajo Knowledge Bowl and an Integration of Diné Content Standards.

The president thanked the gathered educators for their highlighting traditional cultures into their curriculums.

“We are many nations from across this land. The retention of our languages and our songs defines us as Native peoples,” President Begaye said. “We must always fight for what our ancestors stood and fought for.”

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