The Cultural Center at the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade project will bring tradition, knowledge and culture to the Navajo Nation and rest of the world. It is important for world community to understand the cultural significance of the area surrounding the development site. Just in the past few years since the project was first proposed, bits and pieces of stories and history has surfaced about the Former Bennett Freeze area, there very many more very interesting stories that have still yet to be told. The Escalade project would bring the people, their stories, and, their culture together, in the development of an institution for learning and revitalization.
According to a PBS documentary from 2010, linguists consider the [Navajo] language to be “severely threatened.” That is particularly true when Navajo families migrate to urban places like Los Angeles. Over 200,000 Native Americans live in the L.A. area, the largest urban Indian population in the United States. Indians attending off reservations schools were punished for speaking their language and practicing their culture. (https://www.pbs.org/indiancountry/challenges/navajo.html)
Today, those native people who left their reservations long ago, feel there is still no place for them because of the lack of jobs and housing where they are from. Jobs on the reservations are vital for language and cultural retention and revitalization. Navajo culture and tradition is strong on the reservation, 70% of families speak the language in the household. With more opportunities for young people to work and start families close to home, the Navajo culture will thrive. This could be achieved with a large investments in economic development in the tourism industry on the Navajo Nation.
It is important for the Navajo people to take advantage of the opportunity to tell their own stories to visitors who are interested. It is more important to share their own stories with their own people who may feel like visitors because their families had been relocated long ago for education and employment opportunities. Institutions such as the Navajo Nation Museum and Library as well as the Native American Cultural Center at Northern Arizona University provides a place for Native Americans and those interested in Native Americans a place for congregation and learning.