What We Do

The Navajo Language Program (NLP) is committed to advancing the study of Navajo language, linguistics, history, and culture. We promote the use and sustainability of the Navajo language through language instruction, linguistic research, and cultural engagement.

Our introductory classes encourages students to start using Navajo in their daily lives. The advanced courses encourage students to read and write, and to engage in research on the Navajo language. We offer a minor in Navajo Language for undergraduate students. We also offer an undergraduate certificate through the Diné Language Teacher Institute program at UNM called the Diné Language Immersion Teacher Certificate. Graduate students in the MA program in the Department of Linguistics can pursue a focus in Navajo with a concentration in Native American Languages of the Southwest.

In addition to language instruction, the program has also made major contributions to the linguistic research of the Navajo language. This research includes expansive investigations on the lexicography, verbal semantics and syntax, and syntactic variation of Navajo. Some of our current projects include creating a corpus, developing a database of sound profiles, and investigating the first language acquisition of verbal syntax. This work resulted in the newly formed Indigenous Child Language Research Center at UNM.

Each semester we offer a variety of culture nights, which are open for anyone to attend. These events aim to promote various aspects of Diné culture, including art, stories, games, health and well-being, and k’e (the relationship between the self and family, community, and all living things) and the Indigenous Child Language Research Center.

We aim to work closely with institutions across the Southwest in improving Navajo language engagement, and are particularly pleased to welcome students from UNM-Gallup, Diné College, Navajo Technical University, San Juan College, Central New Mexico Community College, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, among others. Our faculty is actively involved in other linguistic organizations such as the Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang) and the Lobo Language Acquisition Lab. They are also involved in Indigenous language organizations such as the Diné Language Teachers Institute (DLTI), the Diné Language Teacher Association, the Navajo Language Academy, Inc.,with “the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages of the Americas, and Saad K’idilyé Diné Language Nest.