There have been many recent attempts to preserve the Diné language, with varying degrees of success. One Diné musician is attempting to do that through art.
Originally from Red Mesa, Arizona, Ricky Nelson, a.k.a. N8v Ace, was raised by his grandmother and mother and was taught to speak the Diné language at an early age.
“I picked up the Navajo Language from my grandma who didn’t know a word of English,” said N8v Ace in a phone interview with the Times.
He put out a single titled “Native Rap” on YouTube which features him rapping completely in Diné Bizaad, drawing positive feedback from not just Diné citizens, but all Native Americans who have seen his video.
He has another song and video titled “Shima/Shimasani” that is written and sung entirely in Diné Bizaad as well.
N8v Ace said he raps in both English and Navajo to build a bridge between both cultures.
“I try to use both worlds in my music, I try to balance each,” said Ace.
His song “Shik’is, Shik’is” is an example of he how he uses words in both English and Diné language.
“ want to inspire people to be proud of who they are,” said N8v Ace, “especially the young, I want them to be proud of where they come from.”
He calls his music “cultural rap,” because he incorporates his cultural identity into his songs.
“It could be used as a tool to inspire the youth to use our Diné language,” said N8v Ace.