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Hi Charlene! I am excited that I will be joining you on the ship! And I cracked up at your post, since I had the exact same reaction when Guy invited me. I am excited to go to get first-hand stories from people who are serving in the military, since I really appreciate their personal sacrifices. I look forward to meeting you soon! All the best, -Pam
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Ben: Thought-provoking conversation. I have to say I am totally biased in this one because I am married to a Navajo man and have had extensive conversations about this with him and my Mother-in-law. Language in Navajo culture is the foundation for all traditional prayers and songs. My Mother-in-law told me that when she was a little girl, her grandpa told her to teach her language to all of her grandchildren, for this was going to be their protection. Understanding his own language (and English btw) brings a tremendous amount of peace to my husband because with each word he speaks and song he sings he reinforces and celebrates who he is. There is a spirit and an energy in language which is extremely powerful. When kids from one generation to the next in Native communities do not learn their own language, it usually cuts them off from understanding their grandparents, who are their greatest teachers about traditional ways and their own culture. I imagine the Arapahos feel deep passion for keeping their language alive and are doing what they feel is best for their current situation. I personally don't think there is anything wrong with learning English as well, but I do imagine the tremendous, heartbreaking future of a people without their language and songs, which often contain immeasurable comfort, teaching and healing. It is kind of like free-clearing tropical rainforest because you haven't figured out what all the plants are for and it is more efficient to plant marketable commodities, or to raise cattle. Once the plants are gone, who knows what they could have cured. I know you like to travel a lot, so I suggest spending some time on reservations to look at the situation more closely. If you ever want to go on the Navajo res, just let me know and I will hook you up with some really wise people who have taught me a lot about the multi-faceted power of language. I don't want to simplify a complex social problem, but at the same time cannot tell you how much joy I feel when my son speaks to his grandma in Navajo. All the best, -Pam
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