Native American tribe plans to dub 'Star Wars' in Navajo

Wed May 1, 2013 9:18pm EDT
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By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The largest Native American tribe in the United States is seeking to dub the classic 1977 movie "Star Wars" movie in Navajo as a way to help preserve its traditional language.

Fluent Navajo speakers have been invited for a casting call in Window Rock in northern Arizona on Friday and Saturday to dub the roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and others, tribal officials said.

Manuelito Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum, said he first came up with the idea 13 years ago as a way to preserve the consonant-rich Navajo language, believed to be spoken by about 170,000 people, according to government figures.

"We thought this would be a provocative and effective way to help try to preserve the language and at the same time preserve the culture," Wheeler told Reuters. "What better movie to do this than ‘Star Wars?'"

Wheeler said he believes the popular science fiction movie will resonate with the Navajo people with its universal theme of good versus evil.

The project was given the go-ahead about 18 months ago.

A team of five Navajos then spent 36 hours translating the original script, hampered by the many words in English that do not translate word for word into Navajo. Instead, several words in Navajo are sometimes needed to convey the proper meaning.

For example, he said there is no direct translation for "May the force be with you," one of the most recognizable lines in the movie.   Continued...

A man dressed as Star Wars character Darth Vader poses for photographers at the "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination" exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney December 3, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz