September 5, 2012
CROWNPOINT, NM – On August 23, 2012, Navajo Technical College received notice of approval by the Institution Actions Council (IAC) of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to begin offering a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership.
The four-year degree program will be the first of its kind on the Navajo Nation and will include 96 credit hours in Navajo specific courses, which include Traditional Navajo Cultural Practices and Theory, Theoretical Indigenous Leadership, and Introduction to Navajo Linguistics.
“This is not another run-of-the-mill BA program,” said NTC’s Director of Diné Studies, Dr. Wesley Thomas. “We’ve developed the program in a way that we’re looking at different methods to teach outside of the usual Western box of education. This program will use a fresh and new approach to the preservation of Diné language and culture, and that is one of the core reasons why we’ve been pushing for a bachelor’s degree.”
The development of NTC’s newest bachelor’s program was first conceived by Dr. Thomas in 1989 when he became curious about the intricacies of Navajo language and culture, but it wasn’t until January 2011 that Dr. Thomas began pressing the need for such a program at Navajo Tech.
“We’ve been teaching Navajo Language for 30 - 40 years, but are we producing native speakers or are we just beating a dead horse?” questioned Dr. Thomas. “It is important that we do this now while we still have people who practice the culture and language because time is essential. We used to have multiple numbers of ceremonies, but now we’re only down to about ten. We need to do this program now, because even next week is too late.”
In addition to a bachelor’s degree, Dr. Thomas also plans on developing a master’s program for Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership, and eventually down the line, doctorate degrees in Diné Language and Indigenous Education.
“The BA program is just another feather in NTC’s bonnet,” stated Dr. Thomas, who also previously headed Dine’ College’s Dine’ Studies program. “Navajo Technical College is in a position where it has the ability to constantly improve itself to become more stable so Navajos and others can benefit from its teachings.”
For more information on NTC’s Bachelor of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership, contact Dr. Wesley Thomas at 505.786.4333 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Wesley Thomas heads a discussion in a Diné Philosophy of Education course at NTC’s hogan classroom. The Institution Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission approved Navajo Technical College to offer a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diné Culture, Language, and Leadership on August 23, 2012.