The written Navajo language was becoming standardized when the newspaper Ádahooníłígíí (“Current Events”) debuted in August 1943. Subtitled The Navajo Language Monthly, the newspaper’s home was in Window Rock, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation and was printed by the U.S. Indian School in Phoenix. Initially, articles on the front page were in the Navajo language, Diné bizaad, followed by a few pages of English translations. As the paper grew, more articles were written in Navajo with short summaries in English on the last page, and then later the English summaries were listed after each article written in Navajo.
The newspaper was initially led by editor Robert W. Young, a linguist who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and translated by William Morgan, a Navajo Indian. Together, Young and Morgan had published the dictionary, The Navajo Language, in 1943. Morgan was translator of the newspaper throughout its entire run. In a 2001 tribute to Morgan in the Navajo Times [LCCN: sn 86091573], Young said that Morgan “drafted the Navajo texts” and Young “set the type and supervised distribution” of Ádahooníłígíí.
In the first two years of publication, a slogan was included in the masthead: “’Ihoo’aah biniighé, t’áá hó honitsékees bik’ehgo na’adá biniighé, dóó náás ’adooldah biniighé.” The English translation in the paper read: “For Education, For Liberty, and For Progress." Much of the news during this time was about World War II, both information about events overseas, as well as the impact on the Navajo community, such as an article about Navajo Sergeant Tim Touchin being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a photograph of two Navajo code talkers. News from around the Navajo Reservation also filled the paper, from reporting on the Tribal Council to articles on agriculture, schools, and public health.
Ádahooníłígíí suspended publication between January 1944 and November 1946. The Arizona Daily Sun [LCCN: sn 86091251] reported that the Navajo newspaper had been discontinued during World War II. When it resumed in 1946, the newspaper grew from four pages to as many as sixteen. Some issues included a section on the Navajo alphabet, with examples of words in Navajo and English. There was more news about Indian Schools in Arizona and other states, tribal news like election results and resolutions passed by the council, and information about federal policies affecting Navajos. These longer issues regularly included several pages of photographs from around the Reservation, sometimes reprinted from Arizona Highways magazine. In its April 1948 issue, the newspaper announced that it would start including more articles written by Navajo Indians.
By April 1951, Young had left the paper, and Morgan briefly served as editor before R. Ethelyn Miller joined the newspaper until the end of 1951. Leon Wall became editor in 1952 and stayed at the paper for over four years, followed by Edward Mays. In its last few years, the newspaper was occasionally published every other month until becoming bimonthly from September 1956 to June 1957, when Ádahooníłígíí ceased publication. At the time, the newspaper stated that 3,500 copies were being printed.
Essay provided by University of Arizona Libraries.
You can listen to how Ádahooníłígíí is pronounced here.Dates of Publication1943-1957Frequency of PublicationBi-monthlyPlace of PublicationUnited States Indian School, Phoenix, ArizonaLanguageEnglishNavajoPermissions and ReuseThe contents of the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program (ADNP) are available to the public by our partners for using in research, teaching, and private study. Please note that U.S. Copyright and intellectual property laws apply to the digital resources made available through this site.