$3,420
pledged of $20,000pledged of $20,000 goal
20
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, May 15 2017 5:59 AM UTC +00:00

Navajo Language Legacy Sculpture

We are creating a sculpture to honor the Navajo language and it's role in both Navajo and American history.

Navajo Language Legacy Sculpture

We are creating a sculpture to honor the Navajo language and it's role in both Navajo and American history.

$3,420
pledged of $20,000pledged of $20,000 goal
20
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Mon, May 15 2017 5:59 AM UTC +00:00

About

"Our young people have a deep ache in their hearts when they are not fluent in their native tongue. If we are to keep this language living we all must participate with all our talents. If you are an artist, writer, silversmith, photographer, teacher, woodworker etc. how can you contribute to the younger generations’ learning? Even if you do not speak fluently, are you learning and passing along what you have learned? If you are a fluent speaker are you kind and encouraging to those who are learning? I see in my lifetime my cheii (maternal grandfather) refusing to speak a word of English, to children of today who can’t speak a word of Navajo. In four generations it has changed. How many generations will it take to reverse? What kind of mind set do we need to change? What kind of everyday effort will it take?

The Diné (Navajo) language saved our nation in World War II. What are we going to do to save it? My nálí (paternal grandfather, Teddy Draper Sr) not only spoke English and Diné, but was also a code talker during WWII. He is an example of the power of knowledge. After the war, Teddy Sr taught Diné bizaad (language) for many years. He loved our language. He authored several books to help students learn to speak, read and write Navajo. Literacy is key. It helps one learn a language when there aren’t many speakers around to guide you. Our little ones deserve to be read to in Navajo. Our children are expected to read in English everyday. Why not in Navajo, too? It is up to each and every one of us to preserve our sacred beautiful language." - Kasandra Nelson, Navajo Children's Book Author

Teddy Draper Sr autographs a poster for a young supporter. This image and that of Sr at a local parade by Kenji Kawano.
Teddy Draper Sr autographs a poster for a young supporter. This image and that of Sr at a local parade by Kenji Kawano.

Language is rooted in culture, and culture rooted in language. Within the 21st century, Americans have simultaneously forced assimilation while idolizing native american cultures. The pressures to assimilate have nearly wiped out an entire language in four short generations and have deeply affected the culture and way of life for the Navajo people. 

During World War II, the Navajo language was used as a code to communicate sensitive information across enemy lines. The Navajo soldiers were able to take advantage of the nuances and subtleties of the language to create a masterful code that remained elusive well after the war.  

The declassification of the code allowed for a renewed interest in the language in an era where young people were being shuttled to boarding schools and removed from their culture. Teddy Draper Sr, a former codetalker, used his experiences to create and teach the first Navajo language courses at Navajo Community College (now Diné College). His commitment to the preservation of language and the culture of his people are what have led us to this project.

Teddy Sr, now an elder of 96 years, has seen his courses flourish into an associates degree program and lives to see a revival in which young people are seeking out their roots and culture through language. 

We are raising money to create a bronze sculpture of the Navajo Codetalkers to honor the legacy of the language in both Navajo and American history. The sculpture will be created by the talented Jeff Wolf and placed on the Navajo Nation reservation at either Diné College or Navajo Technical University so that students and community members can easily access it.  

The proposed sculpture. Individual resin casts of the marquettes will be gifted to anyone who makes a Gold donation and a bronze marquette to those who make a Platinum donation!
The proposed sculpture. Individual resin casts of the marquettes will be gifted to anyone who makes a Gold donation and a bronze marquette to those who make a Platinum donation!

We kindly ask for your donation so that we can create this piece of art, as a beautiful reminder of the Diné language and it's role in our cultures. 

Any funds remaining upon installation of the sculpture will be used to create a scholarship fund for students who have English as a second language.

To read more about the team working on this project - please click on the Bio of Sara Sinclair. There, you can read more about Teddy Draper Jr, Jeff Wolf and myself. 

Risks and challenges

This Kickstarter aims to raise $20,000 to help initiate the project. It will require additional fundraising above and beyond to pay for the sculpture and it's placement. So, if you would like to donate more - we'd love that!

The funds raised here will be used to create additional marquettes which will be sold to raise more funds. We will be advertising at various venues and through family connections to sell the marquettes and gather more donations.

We are also working against the clock. Teddy Sr is 96 years old and we would love to complete this project so that he can see the sculpture! For that reason we are aiming to complete everything this calendar year!

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Thank You!

    Handwritten thank you card from the team.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Bronze

    Sterling silver and turquoise clasp bracelet by Teddy Draper Jr or sterling silver and turquoise dog tag by Sara Hideko

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Silver

    Autographed black and white silver gelatin print of Teddy Draper Sr, a Navajo Code Talker, taken by Kenji Kawano (and donated by Kenji)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Gold

    Resin casting of legacy sculpture by Jeff Wolf

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    Platinum

    Bronze marquette of legacy sculpture by Jeff Wolf

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Funding period

- (57 days)