Melvatha R. Chee
Melvatha R. Chee is Tsé Nahabiłnii, Kin Łichíi’nii, Hooghan Łání and Áshįįhí, a Diné woman from Lake Valley, New Mexico. She has over 15 years of experience working with her heritage language in a professional capacity. This includes interpretation, translation, transcription, teaching and research. Dr. Chee’s work includes teaching the Diné language at the University of New Mexico, serving as an official interpreter for the U.S. Department of Justice, and translating voting ballots for the State of New Mexico. Her research work analyzes child language data collected from first language speakers of Navajo. She primarily examines how children learn to use the morphologically complex Navajo verb. Additionally, she is working to build a Navajo language corpus consisting of stories, narratives, and conversations. Her research interests include first language acquisition, morphophonology, polysynthesis, semantics, morphology, the application of cognitive linguistics to Navajo, and the intersection between language, culture and linguistics, and indigenous language sustainability. Dr. Chee, a United States Marine Corps Veteran, is a fluent speaker of Navajo and became literate at a very young age. As a linguistically trained individual, she offers a unique insight into research on Navajo. Melvatha has firsthand experience in linguistic fieldwork with indigenous communities. She has collected, processed and analyzed Navajo language data, and collaborated on several successful grant-writing projects. Melvatha works hard to maintain a connection to her culture to enrich her Navajo language skills, knowledge and wellbeing. Melvatha, an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico, is currently serving as Director of the Navajo Language Program.