Shirley: If missionaries can learn Navajo, so can Diné

Shirley: If missionaries can learn Navajo, so can Diné


If Mormon missionaries can arrive on the Navajo Nation fluent in Diné bizaad, there’s no reason Navajos can’t learn it, candidate for president Joe Shirley Jr. said Saturday.

During an interview between speeches at a campaign rally in his hometown, Shirley said the key to preserving Navajo culture is the language. “A lot of our culture is within our language,” Shirley said. “We have secrets buried in the names of the herbs, the names of the mountains. All these contain our stories.”

If children learn the language, then they can go to their grandparents and ask them questions, he noted. Although many Diné youth don’t speak Navajo, it’s not because they don’t want to learn, Shirley argued.

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About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at


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