The largest Native American tribe in the United States is seeking to dub the classic 1977 movie “Star Wars” in Navajo, as a way to help preserve its traditional language.
Fluent Navajo speakers were 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, 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. Wheeler said he believes the popular science fiction movie will resonate with the Navajo people with its universal theme of good versus evil.
A team of five Navajos spent 36 hours translating the original script, hampered by the many words in English that do not translate word for word into Navajo.
For example, he said there is no direct translation for “May the force be with you,” one of the most recognisable lines in the movie.
“What we want to avoid is like the Kung Fu movies of the past where the lips didn’t match up with the words they were speaking,” he said.
The finished movie, which will include English subtitles, will be shown during the tribe’s Fourth of July celebration in Window Rock and again in September at the Navajo Nation Fair.