Forget all the other efforts to preserve indigenous languages. They've finally hit on an effective and permanent way to preserve them forever.
No one thinks this is a huge step for Native language preservation. It's a tiny first step, but a good one. It alerts millions of viewers that there's such a thing as a Native language--something they didn't realize before.
A smart Native language organization could build a whole campaign around this moment. Imagine a film clip of the scene morphing into a scene in a hogan. Narrator: "We don't know what Jacob said to Bella, but we do know what Mary Smith said to her granddaughter. Ayor anosh'ni...'I love you' in Navajo.
"Help us preserve the beauty and romance of Native languages like Jacob's and Mary's. Visit xxxxxxxx.org for more information."
Since Stephenie Meyer and the Twilight people haven't done much for Indians, this would be one way to give back to them. Grant them permission to use the New Moon film clip. Give them free or reduced-cost resources to make a 15-second spot. Pledge to play the ad in theaters and to put it on DVDs.
Just as New Moon could be the biggest boost for Native actors in years, this spot could be the biggest boost for Native language preservation in years. With a marketing push, you could get the media to write articles about the ad campaign and about language preservation. It could raise the issue to a whole new level of awareness.
And imagine if all the Twihards started saying "I love you" in Navajo. Wouldn't that be fantastic? Yes, I think it would.
For more on preserving Native languages, see my Pictographs blog.