The Department of Linguistics and the Lobo Language Acquisition Lab at the University of New Mexico launch the Native Children’s Language Research Center to track the progress of infants and children at the Saad K’idilyé Diné Language Nest .
“Children hold the future of their language in their hands. When children no longer speak their native languages, those languages will stop thriving among speakers,” said linguistics professor Dr. Melvatha Chee.
This virtual center will be the first of its kind in the country, according to the UNM announcement.
The new center will document the development of Indigenous languages with a focus on producing Navajo speakers during the most teachable age, namely childhood.
The Linguistics Department at UNM conducted a study on native languages and the Navajo verb.
The study shows that despite the continued use of the Navajo language by tribal elders, fewer children than ever before are learning it as a first language.
In New Mexico, eight Native American languages are spoken and there are eleven New Mexico counties with Native American lands.
Santa Ana Pueblo offers its own language and culture program for Pueblo students, which is included in the Santa Ana Department of Education’s summer program.
They aim to preserve the Tamayame people. Tamayame is the name of the Keres language for the people of Santa Ana Pueblo.
Studies show that Navajo is the most widely spoken native language in the United States.
However, several other indigenous languages are close to extinction.
“Today, many Native languages are in danger of disappearing, taking with them an irreplaceable part of the traditions of the first Americans,” said National Administration Commissioner for Native Americans Lillian Sparks.