A Culture of Clouds: Translating Meteorology into the Navajo Language (337)

Victoria Allen, National Weather Service, Flagstaff/Bellemont, AZ

Natalie Panasiak, UNC-Wilmington



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, poor weather radio coverage, poor cell alert 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 an indigenous language. This educational project was conducted through continuous communication and field visits with local Navajo individuals, organizations, and businesses which culminated in the Y&aacutediłhił Explorers Weather Poster. Vocabulary and cultural information presented in the Y&aacutediłhił 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 partially funded by the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program and was hosted by the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Flagstaff, AZ.

Natalie Panasiak is an undergraduate student. She researched and developed the poster. Poster can be viewed at https://www.weather.gov/images/fgz/NavajoPoster.jpgVictoria Allen is the Administrative Assistant, with additional background in experiential education, geology, and diversity and inclusion. She does not currently have any further funding for this project though she has submitted a followup grant proposal to record the poster into audio format for Navajo speakers, since Navajo is not originally a written language.Victoria respectfully requests that she and Natalie be considered for no-fee abstract submission since Natalie is a student and Victoria is in a non-research position that does not afford funding for professional conferences. Their passion is sharing this project and the message of cultural awareness and humility in teaching about weather.