Jolyana Begay-Kroupa (@jolyanab), a Stanford language lecturer, hopes to digitize 300 reels of tape, holding thousands of hours of Navajo oral history.

Some of the 300 tapes that contain thousands of hours of Navajo oral history

These tapes were likely recorded in the ’60’s, on reels, perhaps 1968, when funding from the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity – was used to begin recording oral histories. Misplaced and never cataloged, only to be discovered in a jail cell a decade later with destroyed backups; the tapes were converted from reels, stored in Dine College.

Now, the Navajo Nation Library is asking the council for $230,520 to digitize the five cabinets of tapes. This will allow the tapes to be protected, curated and distributed.  The content is a cultural gem, containing a recording of the nine-night ceremony. The library plans on coordinating with Navajo religious authorities to determine what recordings can be played when, as well as collaborating with educators to develop curricula on Navajo history, culture and language.

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