A Culture of Clouds: Translating Meteorology into the Navajo Language

Authors: Victoria Allen*, National Weather Service
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters
Keywords: Navajo
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As the single largest native tribe in the United States, the Navajo Nation consists of 110 Chapter houses across Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. Fifty-five of those chapter houses lie within the service area of the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff, Arizona office. The population in this area is more vulnerable to impacts from the extreme weather of northern Arizona due to poor radar coverage and limited infrastructure. Furthermore, portions of this population may not fluently speak or read English. Even though most Navajo people are semi-bilingual, a power-dynamic occurs with there are only publications in English. In response to the need for increased mutual understanding between the National Weather Service and the Navajo people, a regional bilingual weather outreach document was created with the goals of improving public safety, providing educational resources in the Navajo language, and promoting the preservation of a language. This educational project was conducted through continuous communication and field visits with local Navajo individuals, organizations, and businesses which culminated in the Yádiłhił Explorers Weather Poster. The poster includes spatial graphics that are culturally-specific. Vocabulary and cultural information presented in the Yádiłhił Explorers Weather Poster provides valuable insight for scientists concerned with: 1) communicating meteorological hazards across cultures with vulnerable populations; 2) bridging science educational gaps in a culturally sensitive manner; and 3) facilitating interdisciplinary discussion through incorporation of cultural traditions.
The poster can be viewed at https://www.weather.gov/images/fgz/NavajoPoster.jpg . This project was funded by the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program and was hosted by the

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