Dine’ Philosophy of Learning & The Hopi Lavayi Project

The emotional aspect of language acquisition – an intimate relationship with a language – matters.
“When you learn through another language critical events in your history, you lose much of its vitality, a disassociation of ‘its historical and symbolic meaning, becoming, merely, le onze septembre.’ The ‘inner experience of language learners matter.

“There is cultural and philosophical nuance that simply cannot be captured on vocabulary lists.” – A Different Kind of Language Syllabus

The Director of Native American Cultural Studies has the primary responsibility to facilitate and develop greater intimate knowledge and understanding of our traditional Indigenous humanistic teachings and philosophy as these may apply to contemporary life.

Our Vision – The Center for the Advancement of Indigenous Cultural Studies (CAICS), specifically the Dine’ and Hopi Language and Cultural Studies revamp, is fundamentally a culture-friendly learning redesign to:

    • embrace and incorporate community cultural values and wisdom;
    • use our Indigenous languages and cultural knowledge to empower and promote harmonious concordant personal, social, and educational growth.
    • engage and stimulate the minds with traditional Native Cultural knowledge and wisdom.

We place the Dine’ Philosophy of Learning (DPL) and Hopilavayi Project (HP) at the center of our district educational programs to advance the education of all people. No other educational program is given priority over our indigenous ontological and epistemological philosophies of learning. All other cultures and teachings are built around these core indigenous canons of teaching and learning.

To do well in any life endeavor, which includes attaining academic distinction, we must first acknowledge and accept the need for a fundamental sense and importance of indigenous cultural stability, coherency, and continuity. If we are to successfully transverse the rapidly evolving technological culture and information society, it is essential that we first cultivate an abiding collective strength based on our indigenous culture as well as to establish or re-establish a strong personal sense of indigeneity, a self-identity as a cultural anchor.

Our CAICS will reverse the disharmonious and discordant imported educational system and practices that continue to be documented as inconsequential for our Native Peoples. To come to a sense of completeness, our goal is to come into compliance with the empowering languages and practices of Native Peoples using traditional Native values, wisdom, and teaching and learning standards.

Our Cornerstones – The centerpieces for our program redesign stem principally from the fundamental ontological and epistemological Navajo and Hopi cultural philosophies. While Pan-Indigenousness is emphasized, two local cultural indigeneity are used to advance the education of all people who come to our school district. With the Dine’, or Navajo People, the, “T’aa Dine’ Bo’O’oo’aah Bindii’a’ “, or the Dine’ Philosophy of Teaching and Learning, plays a most critical and powerful role in a healthy life ways of the Dine’, the Navajo. With the Hopi language and culture, the school district Hopi Language program has been most active working with the Hopilavayi Project of The Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Kykotsmovi, AZ. These core cultural canons serve not only as a cultural lighthouse but form the foundation for high quality and rigorous teaching and deep learning.

Leitmotiv Features – Substantial evidence suggests that Native students grounded in their own traditions are far more resilient and are likely to succeed in education and in life endeavors (Roessel, R. nd ). We strongly believe and take the position that a school with an essentialized identity of this form will embrace and value the, “various rites, rituals, celebrations, life-style and allocated tasks” of the community children and students, in the process shaping “the child’s personality and [making] it feel secure within its cultural setting”. Bapat & Karandikar (1998, p. 8 & 9.).

Our program design and strategy will transform cultural education to allow a child to, “know who it is, what it is expected to do, in what way, and how to relate itself to the kinship structure and the neighborhood.” (ibid, p. 9) An educational environment of this depth and breadth welcomes a child to learn, “a tremendous amount about nature and develops emotional bonds with its different seasonal manifestations. All this knowledge, gathered at first hand, infuses self-confidence in the child and forms its cultural identity.” (ibid, p. 9).

Our students will be exposed to a rich and varied series of hands-on, real world Native cultural experiences to illuminate the significance of DPL and HP in one’s life and in the American education system although fundamentally we believe that this form of intimate relationship with language acquisition begins within our own family and lives. Our students will actively engage in authentic, orally rich and expressive home and family learning environment, and for the upper grades to read widely, access a rich variety of print and non-print sources such as artifacts and material cultural objects, including photographs and original documents. Our students will visit and tour historic places, think deeply about their experiences, talk, write and create cultural artifacts and products. Our objectives are to actively engage and stimulate our minds with oral traditions and teachings possessed by our elderly as well as those with expertise and/or specialists.

Our Outcomes – Our ultimate goal is to add a deep humanistic educational dimension and approach to the rapidly evolving scientific and technological global education. By placing DPL and HP at the center of our educational programs, we take our rightful place in the education of our children and youth as all other cultures and teachings take their proper place in a formal educational setting.

Our students will reflect upon critical themes of DPL and HP and continuing new development, broaden and deepen our understanding our Native Peoples, and interact with a core of visiting specialists with specialized Native Cultural knowledge.

In this manner, our immersion education program will begin to re-connect the humanities, the cultural teachings, the evolving global technologically-based education, and we will rebuild inter-generational education. Most Native peoples have shown the fortitude, vision, and foresight to see the significance of an education of this depth and breadth. Accordingly, we strive to acknowledge, accept, and respect the fundamental importance of our traditional values, beliefs, and philosophy to The Good Life.

Dine’ Philosophy of Learning

Hopilavayi Project

Arizona Indian Education Legislation

Arizona State Board of Education Policies