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Why did Helen change her original name?
1) She wanted to break her tribe traditions.
2) People found it difficult to pronounce it.
3) She did not like its meaning.
Presenter: With us in the studio today we have a girl from the famous Indian tribe - the Navaho. Could you please introduce yourself to the audience?
Helen: People call me Helen, though it is not my real name. All our names have special meanings; my original name for instance can be translated as ‘dewdrop’ from my native language.
Presenter: That is a beautiful name indeed! Why would one change it?
Helen: You see I had to when I went to school. It was not easy for my teachers and classmates to pronounce it as our system — I mean the Navaho system — of vowel sounds is so much different for people around, which makes it problematic both for ear and tongue. The sound of my name was closest to Helen so I put up with that.
Presenter: When people hear your tribe name, they imagine Indian-style tents and horse riding without a saddle. Could you explain what your land and people are like?
Helen: Much about the life of modern Native Americans is not the same as stereotypes may make you believe. Our land is basically a desert, with proper houses scattered everywhere. We no longer live in our traditional teepees. They are only used for religious meetings. We still ride horses as the land is very open. The people are nice and friendly. I live in a small community in New Mexico.
Presenter: Could you tell us about your family?
Helen: Well, mine is very large, with a lot of relatives spread all over the reservation, and some in different cities. I have three brothers, a sister and three sisters-in-law. I’m the youngest of my family. However, it is not a must, not all our families are the same size. They used to be like ours, but not anymore.
Presenter: What is your lifestyle like?
Helen: Again, far from stereotypes. I go out with friends and wear clothes like an ordinary person — we only wear squaw dresses on certain occasions. I play all types of sports.
Presenter: Do you feel that your traditions are being kept or have they been destroyed, as your people become more influenced by European culture?
Helen: In some families Navaho traditions are kept — they are in my family. Other families are being influenced by white culture, but I think it is wrong for a Navaho to be completely like a white person. Something truly authentic must remain.
Presenter: Is English your first language?
Helen: When I was a child, I was taught both English and Navaho. Now I have partly forgotten the latter — I can understand almost anything but speaking or writing may create a problem for me. The elders understand our language best.
Presenter: What do you do on an average weekend?
Helen: I go to Farmington, the nearest large town, and go shopping, eat out, and then go to the movies. A great weekend would be going to the mall where I’d hang out with friends.
Presenter: Have you traveled much? What is your favourite place?
Helen: Yes, I have traveled. My favourite place is Connecticut. I would like to go overseas some day and see how people are there, and what their lifestyle is like. Navaho people are hospitable and we welcome travelers in our land too.
Presenter: Thank you, Helen.
It was not easy for my teachers and classmates to pronounce.