People come from all over the world to experience the American Indian culture of the Southwest, so it's disheartening to see the Four Corners lose more of that culture with each generation.

The recent celebration of a Navajo language textbook is a reassuring sign that an effort is being made to help bring our American Indian culture back to life.

In the presence of Gov. Bill Richardson, Farmington High School freshmen were witness to the formal adoption of the nation's first such school book last month.

The book, "Diné Binahoo' ahh" or "Rediscovering the Navajo Language" was presented to state officials during the summer, and Farmington High is one of only a handful of public schools that already has a copy.

Before the book was adopted, Richardson said American Indian language teachers were on their own for teaching materials. We certainly appreciate the effort of those teachers to make their classes work and we hope this book only will make the learning experience that much better.

The Navajo language is difficult to learn. That is obvious in the lack of native speakers in the area, and it's a problem for many cultures in this country.

Assimilation of the American culture and the English language often have people leaving their native cultures behind. It's happened for generations.

It makes preserving culture more important so that we don't lose the ways of all our ancestors, and language is a central part of any culture.


More than 5,000 Navajo students are learning the language in 10 of the state's public school districts.

While that's an encouraging number, we hope that this new textbook will encourage more students to commit to learning the language and that our teachers are able to make their lessons more engaging.

We have to take greater pride in preserving our cultures, and our educators and lawmakers should be commended for taking the lead in such an important effort.