​Star Wars Navajo Language Legacy To Be Preserved​​

By: | 04/29/2013 06:56 AM ET

The Star Wars movie has been translated to Japanese, French, Spanish and about a dozen other languages, and now Navajo has been added to that list for anyone who wants to learn it.

Star Wars Navajo

Manuelito Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum who reached out to Lucasfilm Ltd. with the idea, has a very good feeling about this. He sees it as entertaining, educational and a way to preserve the language at a time when fewer tribal members are speaking it.

“That’s the beauty of what we’re doing; we’re teaching Navajo language to anybody who wants to learn the Navajo language,” Wheeler said. “I find that very rewarding and somewhat ironic. We went from a country that wanted to limit our language, to the Navajo language saving our country through Code Talkers, to our language being part of a major motion picture.”

Native languages on the big screen are a rarity. Independent films and documentaries at film festivals have been in the tongue of American Indian tribes.

“There’s a little bit of precedent but nothing like ‘Star Wars’ in the Navajo language,” said Michael Smith, director of the American Indian Film Institute and a member of the Sioux Tribe of Montana.

A team of five Navajo speakers spent 36 hours translating the script for “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” and now they’re looking for fluent Navajo speakers to fill some two dozen roles.

Casting calls are scheduled Monday in Burbank, Calif., and May 3 and 4 — the unofficial “Star Wars” holiday — at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Ariz.

Potential Star Wars voice actors shouldn’t worry if they don’t sound exactly like Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker or Han Solo in Navajo.