The Navajo Nation Museum and Lucasfilm are working together to dub Star Wars: A New Hope into the Navajo native language of Diné bizaad, a language spoken by around 210,000 people. Manuelito Wheeler, the director of the Navajo Nation Museum who approached Lucasfilm with the idea, sees the project as an entertaining and educational way to preserve the Navajo language. It’s also a way to engage younger members of the Navajo tribe and teach them their native tongue in a fun and captivating way. Actors who already speak the language can audition for voice-over roles, including Luke, Leia, Han Solo and Darth Vader. Auditions are scheduled for May 3 and May 4 at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, AZ.
So how do you say “May the Force be with you” in Navajo?
“May the force be with you,” might translate into “may you walk with great power,” or “may you have the power within you,” Laura Tohe, a fluent Navajo speaker and English professor at Arizona State University, told Yahoo. The correct translation of the famous movie phrase matters, because the 1977 sci-fi classic film, Star Wars or – if the online English to Dine translator can be trusted – Sǫʼ Baaʼ, is being translated into the Navajo language.
“Youth around the world have been inspired by the theme of Star Wars that every individual has the power within them to become a hero,” said Lynne Hale, a spokeswoman for Lucasfilm, speaking with the Farmington Daily Times. “We are thrilled that the youth of the Navajo Nation will now see the film in their native tongue.” Star Wars, says the Daily Times, will be the first movie ever translated and re-cut in Diné.
The Diné version is scheduled to debut July 4 at the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, with plans to show it at local movie theaters across the reservation, which stretches into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, as well as in metropolitan areas with large Navajo populations.