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October 17, 2013

VIDEO: ‘Star Wars’ gets dubbed in Navajo

NORMAN — In a galaxy far, far away, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia speak Navajo.

Thanks to the efforts of the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department, the Navajo Nation Museum, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox and Deluxe, the 1977 classic “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope” is now dubbed in Navajo.

A free public screening is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, 2401 Chautauqua Ave., as part of a nationwide tour.

Mary Linn, Native American languages associate curator at the Sam Noble Museum, said the dubbed film will help establish relevance and prestige to the Navajo language, therefore ensuring its vitality.

“I want it to be a fun event for the native community, for Norman and surrounding areas, that they can come and really have fun with this movie,” Linn said. “But ultimately, I want it to raise awareness for outside of the native community that these languages are thriving languages and they can be adapted and they can be used to talk about daily life and even future life.

“We need to be supportive. These languages are endangered or threatened; it really takes all of us being supportive to keep languages going.”

The film is the first major motion picture dubbed into a Native American language, Linn said. The recording of this film was done at Native-owned Knifewing Studios in Gallup, N.M.

Dan Swan, curator of ethnology at the Sam Noble Museum, said the Navajo nation has approximately 300,000 members, with estimates of about 40 percent speaking Navajo. The dubbed film is a language revitalization tool within the Navajo nation.

After the screening tour is over, Swan said the hope is to get copies of the film into the hands of different institutions and families to be used for educational purposes.

For non-Native American speakers, Linn said the dubbed film holds relevance and importance. In fact, the film will include English subtitles.

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