Investigating the Holistic Development of Indigenous Children - Moving Towards Dine-based Milestones

Melvatha Chee, Tiffany Lee

Our Grand Challenge involves investigating the holistic development of Diné babies and toddlers while immersed in the home-like environment of a Diné (Navajo) language nest in order to identify child developmental milestones. We aim to identify Diné child developmental milestones in the following areas: language, physical (motor skills), and socioemotional wellbeing.

These areas of development will guide the Saad K’idilyé language nest in improving their Diné-based approach and design in their efforts to revitalize Diné bizaad. An inquiry into these areas of focus gives us insight into the link between Indigenous language use and wellbeing, a claim made in previous research. By partnering with Saad K’idilyé and observing children in the language nest, we are provided a unique and mutually beneficial opportunity.

The results from this collaboration will benefit the Saad K’idilyé language nest, the community, and the academic study of Indigenous child development. This project addresses goals set out by the Indigenous global and local communities, and other heritage language communities.

This is a case-study of Diné child holistic development which in turn will inform a larger, long term follow-up study, and Indigenous and heritage language revitalization broadly.