First Things First — Thank you for participating!

| December 6, 2022



We are grateful for your participation in this year’s activities to celebrate Native American Heritage Month (NAHM). 

For this year’s theme, we focused on one of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL 2022-2023) outcomes, which is to empower Indigenous Peoples to learn, teach, and transmit their languages to current and next generations. Your participation in celebrating and honoring NAHM along with us has helped us to continue to expand our mission in collaborating with Arizona’s Indian tribes and nations to ensure all children are ready for school and set for life and to promote the IDIL 2022-2023 initiative. 

During this month, we shared stories about children and families from tribal nations and communities in Arizona, debuted a blog about language preservation efforts in some FTF tribal regions, promoted champions for young children in our FTF regions and highlighted Arizona’s strong tribal presence. 

In addition, we held three panel sessions. Because language revitalization is a shared responsibility in the community, we learned from several folks from various organizations. We are honored and blessed to have individuals from a Community School, University Cooperative Extension, Language Preservation Department, Tribal Library, and Grassroots Reading Program to share their work in language revitalization, reclamation, immersion, and preservation within their communities. Below are the participating panelists, a summary of what was shared, and recordings of the panel session.

  • Collective Language Revitalization panelist #1:

    • Dawnafe Whitesinger, Dishchii’bikoh Community School, White Mountain Apache Tribe

    • Ashley Dixon-Kleiber, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Gila County 

One panelist talked about how they created an advisory board, gathered input from the community, invited key stakeholders, involved parents, and tapped into the community resources as a process for creating a language revitalization program. Another panelist provided some strategies for promoting language teaching and learning and one example is to create a safe space for non-speakers to speak their language because the language still belongs to them.

Click link to watch recording: Panel Session 1

  • Collective Language Revitalization panelist #2:

    • Alvina Romero, Dr. Fernando Escalante Tribal Library, Pascua Yaqui Tribe

    • Beatrice Lee, Apache Language Preservation Department, San Carlos Apache Tribe

    • Bernadette Talkalai, Apache Language Preservation Department, San Carlos Apache Tribe

One panelist mentioned that they provided virtual live sessions during the pandemic, while it was important to promote language education among children and their families, she also mentioned the importance of promoting their health and well-being as well. Due to the limited number of language teachers in the community, one panelist stated that organizations can implement a certification program for language speakers to teach the language. Another panelist provided a recommendation for writing a successful language revitalization grant by inviting key people to help write the grant such as community members, elders, and youth.  

Click link to watch recording: Panel Session 2

  • Collective Language Revitalization panelist #3:

    • Radmilla Cody, Shimá Storytelling, Navajo Nation

    • Pauletta Chief-Lee, Shimá  Storytelling, Navajo Nation

    • Stephanie Littlehat, Shimá  Storytelling, Navajo Nation

The panelist discussed how they have taken their methods and strategies of home schooling the Diné language and literacy teaching with their children to the community level by developing a curriculum that celebrates and strengthens cultural knowledge, kinship, song lines and stories. Each panelist brings their specific skills to the program such as having proficiency in Navajo writing and reading, developing the materials, and writing children songs. The panelist also shared several activities such as a greeting song, identifying colors, and reading a story during the panel session. 

Click link to watch recording: Panel Session 3

Below is a list of recommended children’s books provided by Dr. Fernando Escalante Tribal Library:

  • Finding Home: The Journey of Malichi (Yaqui) by Marisa Quiroz & Norena Valencia

  • Who Am I? The Journey of Malichi (Yaqui) by Marisa Quiroz & Norena Valencia

  • A Day with Hu’ul (Tohono O’odham) by Jose Cazares & Kerri Ann Cazares

  • First Laugh Welcome Baby! (Navajo) by Rose Tahe & Nancy Bo Flood

  • I Sang You down from the Stars (Cree) by Tasha Spillet Summer

  • We Sang You Home and Little You (First Nations-Dene) by Richard Van Camp 

Below is a list of website links to help you find books for young children that are about Indigenous peoples or by Indigneous authors provided by University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension: 

As always, we look forward to promoting, celebrating and learning more about the culture and traditions of Indigenous communities to better support young children and families. Email if you have any questions or would like additional information. 

Thank you for joining us!



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Category: Child Welfare, Education, Educational Opportunities, Programs, Resources

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