Although stereotypes of Native Americans are easy to find, mainstream culture does not have a lot of images of everyday Native American people engaged in familiar pursuits. One thing we virtually never see is any connection between Native Americans and technology, which is why I am so pleased by this video, in which daybreakwarrior, a young Navajo man, provides “a lesson in descriptive Navajo” by showing off his iPod:
(If you can’t watch or listen to the video: This video shows a young man describing his iPod in the Navajo language in very significant detail. He covers not only what it is and what it does, but also its size, weight, dimensions, materials, and how the headphone jack and the download port work. The video has both transliteration of the Navajo sounds and translation into English.)
A few specifics to note:
1) He relies on English for only a very few words: “iPod” and “classic,” numbers, and “GB.” The word for “television” appears to be “holo.” In his notes on YouTube, he says: “In regards to concepts of “downloading,” there are no official ways to describe these things in Navajo. People in different areas use different words.”
2) The way he describes the device tells us a lot about Navajo culture–it is very hard to imagine someone of European descent thinking about some of the descriptors he uses (“it has rounded corners”), while still being completely informative and intelligible to a non-Navajo speaker.
3) His clothing and surroundings also silently combat stereotypes of Native Americans.
I find that I enjoyed this video even more the second and third times. It makes me wish I spoke Navajo, or at least that I had better access to descriptive concepts of that depth and range.
(I found this at Sociological Images, in a longer post by Adrienne Keene about stereotyping Native Americans and technological concepts, which is also well worth reading.)