WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren had one thought that lasted all last night and all day today.
Speak Diné bizaad.
Late into Wednesday night until the thin glow of Thursday’s dawn, he worked alone to prepare the first of his weekly radio addresses to be given entirely in the Navajo language.
His 20-minute talk to the Navajo people aired simultaneously on KTNN, KNDN and KGAK. He followed that with 30 minutes on Facebook.
At midday, he met with newly-appointed Superintendent of Diné Education Claudia Edgewater for a department update. As that meeting ended, he told her what was important to him.
“Let’s stay focused on kids,” he told her. “Language and culture, that’s the thing I want to get done.”
He asked to see programs in DODE schools that are “free and accessible” and teach the Navajo language at the beginner, medium and advanced levels to everyone who wants to learn.
By the end of Thursday, he met with 24 students and their teachers from the Shonto Preparatory School and he shared the same message.
“Continue to study,” he said. “Continue to know about who you are as Navajos. Try to learn at least one new Navajo word a day.”
He said he has powerful words he always likes to share with students, whether they are first graders or doctoral students.
“I always give the same words because it’s the most powerful word you can say,” he told them. “Say this with me … biláhó bíínshghah.”
He told them he’s seen tough time, and these are the words that got him through.
“Biláhó bíínshghah. Anytime you’re challenged with obstacles or things that seem tough, remind yourself of that. You’re going to do it and you’re going to accomplish it.”
He told them it means they are more than capable, they can do it, and that tough times come to everyone. There will be those days that they feel like giving up, that they will have to motivate themselves.”
“Regardless if my name is Buu, regardless if I’m half Navajo, regardless if I’m not the tallest person in the room. It’s OK. As long as you believe in yourself,” he told the students.
“What I always told myself is biláhó bíínshghah, ‘you’re more than capable,’” he said.
He came to the president’s office to make sure they had a really strong future ahead of them, he said.
“To make sure that when you become architects, engineers, professional athletes, travelers or business owners or entrepreneurs, doctors or lawyers, even a welder or carpenter, or whatever it may, that you have a place to come home to,” he said. “I want to make sure it’s a lot easier to build your own home.”
He said having a home of his own is one of the things he always wanted as a child, and he knew he’s have to do it himself.
“I would always go to the laundromat and do laundry,” he said. “I did laundry all the way up to 35 years old. And then I finally built my own home. Now we don’t have to go to the laundry anymore. So that’s what I want for each and every one of you.”
Create a dream for themselves, he encouraged them. Dream it every day, see it, and be proud to be Navajos.
“You will all be successful,” he said. “Just continue to be amazing.”