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October 28, 2013

'Star Wars' gets Navajo translation

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

The 1977 sci-fi classic “Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope” has been dubbed in the Navajo language. The translated film - which includes English subtitles - is stopping for free screenings in places largely chosen because of their Native American populations.

One stop will be the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, where Mary Linn, associate curator for Native American languages, is hoping an Oct. 27 screening will serve two audiences.

“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,” said Linn. “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.

Linn said the Navajo language needs support.

“These languages are endangered or threatened. It really takes all of us being supportive to keep languages going," she said.

The Navajo nation has approximately 300,000 members, said Dan Swan, the museum's curator of ethnology. An estimated 40 percent speak the Navajo language.

Linn said "Star Wars" is the first major motion picture dubbed into a Native American language. The recording was done at native-owned Knifewing Studios in Gallup, N.M., and coordinated by the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department, the Navajo Nation Museum, Lucasfilm, 20th Century Fox and Deluxe.

The translated film debuted Oct. 4 at Arizona State University in Tempe. Its screening tour is scheduled to stop in other locations in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, California and Washington, D.C., through Nov. 9. Visit the Navajo Nation Museum's Facebook page for more information: www.facebook.com/NavajoNationMuseum

Hannah Cruz writes for The Norman, Okla., Transcript.

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