to round out the entire cast for Tuba City High Hopi Lavayi
and Navajo language programs, Hopi student actors played a
major part in making the first ever public play in the Hopi
language a success. (photo by Rosanda Suetopka)
only their Hopi traditional names, Tuba City Junior High language
actors are from left: Holeetsi, Pavayoykyatsi and Sutaqmana.
(photo by Rosanda Suetopka)
TUBA CITY, AZ - Last week Tuba City Junior High Navajo and Hopi
language instructors worked with students to present a live play
performance in a contemporary setting with students enrolled in
tribal language programs.
An hour-long public play presentation was designed and created
by the students. They receiving language assistance help only in
the interpretation from the Hopi and Navajo language teachers.
Diné and Hopi Lavayi Language teachers Tammy Richards,
sixth grade Navajo/Cultural instructor, Arvis Myron, sixth-eighth
grade Hopi Lavayi teacher, and Louise Kerley, eighth grade language
and cultural teacher, provided the oversight language mentorship
to the students who were actors and script writers for the play.
The theme for this year's performance was "Tazhii Ye'e,"
meaning "Turkey Was."
The presentation was about the tribal language interaction between
the students who were the actors in the play to become more familiar
and comfortable with their language in a conversational atmosphere.
The skit focused on tribal basic language skills, such as describing
colors and numbers and in the Hopi version to share and tell a bit
about the Hopi Clown or Tsuku.
The students were also awarded special recognition for Best
Actor and Best Actress as well as for Best Supporting Actor and
Best Supporting Actress for the most fluent presentation in tribal
language during the play interaction.
Eighth grade Navajo language and cultural instructor Louise
Kerley said the students did an excelleng job.
"We are so very proud of each of them for their creative
talent in writing the play and then acting in it," Kerley said.
"We had a lot of support from not just the teachers in the
program but also from several of the district's departments.
The technology department set up the sound system. Dennis Bedonie,
school counselor, who is a fluent Navajo speaker, served as the
Master of Ceremonies. A panel of judges for the trophy prizes were
made up from other staff. Violet Tso and Ella Bedonie, both primary
school teachers, and Judy Anagal from Dzil Libei Elementary School
and Angie Blake a former TCUSD teacher, counted the ballots and
helped make the final choices of students who won prizes.
"[The students who won prizes were those] who did a particularly
good job of speaking their tribal language in solid conversation
and interpretation of cultural ideas."
Kerley said this was the first time the Navajo and Hopi language
programs put on an event like this.
"It turned out to be a really positive experience, so we
are hoping that this first presentation won't be our last, we now
have a good idea of what it takes to put on a play production and
we can start to work on another one for the spring," Kerley
One of the goals of Tuba City Unified School District is to
incorporate tribal language and tradition in everyday classroom
curriculum blending a strong tribal language and cultural foundation
to complement the rigorous academic tasks given to students from
the primary school to the senior level in high school, as well as
challenging and encouraging students who attend the alternative
school called Nizhoni Accelerated Academy.