Tween 2 Worlds (language)

Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Wed Apr 14 17:13:36 UTC 2004

Striking a balance between 2 worlds

Preserving language and respecting tradition is how two Native
American women balance their professional lives and their heritage.

Angie Walker Maloney, the director of environmental health at the
Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation, and Muriel Scott, a
deputy prosecutor with the Hopi Tribe, spoke at a panel discussion
about "Sacred Duties: Indigenous Professional Women and Preserving
Traditional Ways."

Maloney is a Navajo woman who works in the health profession,
primarily with prevention, but has had to find ways to balance her
beliefs with what she does with her career.

She said when she has to dissect animals or other things that go
against her traditional beliefs, she tells herself it is required by
her job and is for the betterment of her people.

"That is how I make peace with myself," she said. "We're caught in
the middle if we're brought up traditionally."

In her personal life, she is a weaver and participates in some of the
ceremonies her mother, a medicine woman, performs.

Her native language is important to her, but when she attended a
boarding school, she was taught not to speak it.

"We were told not to speak our language," she said. "My sister and I
had our mouth washed out with soap and we were spanked with wet
leather (for disobeying)."

But she said she is from the generation that fought back against
those who tried to take away their language, and because of this,
other generations know the language.

Scott, who speaks Hopi, said speaking a native language is important.
In her job it helps her convey meanings to the defendants that may be
lost if she attempted in English.

"One word could have a thousand meanings," she said. "It is coming
directly from the heart. When you do it in your own language there is
a feeling you are conveying that is much stronger than using the
English language."

At one point in her life, however, she was ashamed to speak Hopi. It
was important for her to speak English fluently and without an
accent, she said.

"I was so desperate to fit in," she said. "It is rough to balance
traditional ways and be a fluent speaker in the English language."

She reached a point where she mastered speaking English fluently,
even after some mishaps, such as telling people her boss was at
a "rodeo" meeting when he was at a Rotary meeting. But then she
learned she had to make adjustments for how she speaks English when
she would go back to her village on the Hopi reservation. She said
she found she could speak slower and quieter than she did at her

The panel was presented by the Applied Indigenous Studies program and
the native forestry program at Northern Arizona University. It was
funded by a grant from Fort McDowell Casino.

Reporter Sara Kincaid can be reached at 556-2250 or
skincaid at

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