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'Finding Nemo' in Navajo: a step in keeping the language alive

By Alex Cabrero  |  Posted Mar 17th, 2016 @ 8:17am

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SALT LAKE CITY — "Finding Nemo" began playing in theaters 13 years ago. In a couple of days, it will play again for free — in Navajo.

Navajo seems to be a dying language, something many Navajo elders are worried about. So when big-name movies, like "Star Wars," and now, "Finding Nemo," are released in Navajo, it's about trying to keep the language alive.

“For Navajo land, for Navajo people, this is something that is epic,” said Mylo Fowler, who is the Navajo voice of "Crush" in the film.

As a Navajo, Fowler, who lives in Sandy, says it's an honor.

“When I saw the film for the first time, I was just shocked and blown away,” said Fowler. “It was so amazing the talent that was there. This wild idea of translating one of the greatest kid movies of all time into what I certainly believe is one of the greatest languages of all time.”

Beyond just how cool it is, it's also important.

Photo: KSL-TV

The language was used during World War II, when Navajo "Code Talkers" helped encrypt communications, keeping enemy forces from translating vital messages. But, with every generation since, the language is slowly dying.

With "Star Wars: A New Hope" translated to Navajo in 2003 and now "Finding Nemo," the second big-name movie translated in their language, Navajos are hoping it will excite younger generations to learn about their past and keep their language alive.

“It’s a very critical part of our identity,” said Fowler. “Who we are as an individual and how we can communicate with our elders, who we’ve learned these wonderful stories from.”

"Finding Nemo" is playing in several theaters starting Friday in and around the Navajo Nation, as well as the Megaplex Theater at the Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City. Tickets are free at the ticket counter.

Contributing: Xoel Cardenas

Contributing: Xoel Cardenas


Alex Cabrero
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