Navajo Block Candidate for Language Problem

     (CN) – Navajo Nation officials on Thursday decided that a candidate for tribal chairman should be removed from the November ballot because he does not speak the Navajo language well enough.
     Chris Deschene finished second in the tribal primary.
     Some voters objected that Deschene lacked Navajo language skills, and at a tribal hearing Thursday, Deschene refused to answer some questions in Navajo, according to New Mexico news reports.
     Deschene protested, saying the language test had never been used before, and was being employed specifically to disqualify him. He has 10 days to appeal to the Tribal Supreme Court.
     The Navajo word for Navajo is Diné (dee-NAY). It is part of the enormous Athapaskan language group, which includes Apaches, who refer to themselves as Ndé and to Navajos as Nnee.
     The Diné are fiercely protective of their language, and most of the nation’s 300,000 members still speak it. It is believed to be one of the only tribes that insists upon using its own words for terms such as “catalytic converter” and “download.”
     The Diné are the country’s largest tribe, by population, and by the size of their land. Their 27,425-square-miles reservation, though mostly in Arizona, occupies parts of all the states in the Four Corners region.

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