10.4 A Culture of Clouds: Translating Meteorology into the Navajo Language

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 11:15 AM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Natalie Elizabeth Panasiak, Univ. of North Carolina, Wilmington, NC; and V. Allen and A. L. Merriman

A Culture of Clouds: Translating Meteorology into the Navajo Language

Natalie Panasiak

Weather Ready Nation

Victoria Allen (Mentor)

Tony Merriman (Mentor)

National Weather Service

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

As the single largest native tribe in the United States, the Navajo Nation consists of 110 Chapter houses across Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. Fifty-five of those chapter houses lie within the service area of the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff, Arizona office. The population in this area is more vulnerable to impacts from the extreme weather of northern Arizona due to poor radar coverage and limited infrastructure. Furthermore, portions of this population may not fluently speak or read English. In response to the need for increased mutual understanding between the National Weather Service and the Navajo people, a regional bilingual weather outreach document was created with the goals of improving public safety, providing educational resources in the Navajo language, and promoting the preservation of a language. This educational project was conducted through continuous communication and field visits with local Navajo individuals, organizations, and businesses which culminated in the Yádiłhił Explorers Weather Poster. Vocabulary and cultural information presented in the Yádiłhił Explorers Weather Poster provides valuable insight for scientists concerned with: 1) communicating meteorological hazards across cultures with vulnerable populations; 2) bridging science educational gaps in a culturally sensitive manner; and 3) facilitating interdisciplinary discussion through incorporation of cultural traditions. This project was funded by the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program and was hosted by the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Flagstaff, AZ.

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