By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript
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.
“We often like to tout that Oklahoma is Native America, right? All of our daily lives benefit from the fact that our neighbors come from a variety of different cultures, belief systems and all the different things that they do,” she said. “These are things that don’t get carried on as easily if the languages don’t survive.”
Screening locations were chosen primarily on the basis of their Native American population. As part of the arrangement with Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox, all screenings will be free. However, certain venues may require an RSVP.
The film made its debut Oct. 4 at the Arizona State University in Tempe. It will continue its tour through Nov. 9 at locations in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, California and Washington, D.C.
Doors open at the Sam Noble Museum screening 6 p.m. Oct. 27, with the film beginning at 7. Guests are encouraged to dress up. The first 50 guests in line will receive a commemorative poster.
Seats are on a first come, first serve basis, but reservations are available for those 70 years old and up. Contact the museum for more information at snomnh.ou.edu.
For more information on this film and screening dates and locations, visit navajonationmusem.org, the Navajo Nation Museum on Facebook or call the Navajo Nation Museum at 928-871-7941.