Navajos swap cultural lessons

Schoolchildren in south Wales have been teaching Native American pen pals about cultural preservation.

Pupils and teachers from Bridgend used e-mail to tell Navajo students in New Mexico about life in Wales.

Cefn Glas Infants School students found that both groups cherish traditional songs, dance and language, and face a fight to preserve traditional ways.

Headteacher Rayner Rees visitied the Naschitti Elementary School in the Navajo on Wednesday and exchanged gifts with the 180 second and third-grade children.

The Navajo is the largest Native American tribe in the south-west United States.

The pupils have been in e-mail contact since December, and have found many similarities despite living across the Atlantic.

Mr Rees said: “I believe we have a similar problem with preserving our cultures, with ours being the English influence on Wales.”

“Just as Navajos have struggled to preserve their language, the Welsh language had almost disappeared in southern Wales, but now we treat it as a compulsory subject.”

The two schools exchanged symbols of their culture.

National campaign

Naschitti school librarian Tim McGuire initiated the e-mail exchange while on an exchange in Llandrillo College, Colwyn Bay, from the University of Minnesota.

He presented Mr. Rees with a framed collection of plants used for Navajo weaving’ dye and a compact disc of traditional songs.

The Navajo are currently emrboiled in a campaign to secure national governmental status.

The local government for the ‘Navajo Nation’ was established in 1923.