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University of Arizona students put on a play entirely in the Navajo language

Students in the University of Arizona’s intermediate Navajo language class are putting on “Back to the Rez,” a play about identity and cultural knowledge, done entirely in Diné Bizaad, the Navajo language.

Aresta Tsosie-Paddock, who teaches the class, added the play to her curriculum four years ago.

She says the yearly play is a great way for students to connect to the language while also being creative and telling stories of their own experience.

It’s important, she says, “to know that this is going towards retaining, revitalization of the language, and to see that these students really want to learn.”

Tsosie-Paddock says the Navajo culture is embedded within Diné Bizaad, and teaching young Navajo people the language allows them to connect with their elders, as well as pass the language down to future generations.

“Back to the Rez” will be performed at UA on Monday, Nov. 22.

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Vaughan Jones is the weekend reporter for KJZZ, and a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, with a minor in music. As a Phoenix native, Jones’s dream is to serve his community by covering important stories in the metropolitan area.He spent two years as music director at Blaze Radio, ASU’s student-run radio station. His passion for radio stems from joining Blaze his freshman year as a DJ.When he is not working, Jones can be found writing music with his band, playing video games with his friends, or watching his favorite Phoenix-area sports teams.