Arizona Indian Living Treasures Awards

To Honor the Cultures of Arizona Native American Tribes

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Teddy Draper, Sr.


Teddy Draper, Sr., is a Navajo Code Talker. A Navajo tribal member, Mr. Draper was born in Canyon Del Muerto, Arizona. He currently resides in the community of Chinle, Arizona. During WW II, Mr. Draper employed the Navajo language in service of his community and the United States. Mr. Draper fought in the battle of Iwo Jima. He received a Purple Heart as well as the U.S. Congressional Silver Medal. As one of the Navajo Code Talkers, Mr. Draper has made countless appearances and presentations across the nation.

Since his return from the war, Mr. Draper has dedicated his life to teaching the Navajo language. Mr. Draper began teaching the Navajo language at the Rough Rock Community high school. Due to the lack of teaching materials, Mr. Draper improvised and created his own materials for language instruction. He went on to produce countless teaching materials including the widely used “Dine Bizaad” workbook, which continues to be the staple of many Navajo language classes to date. Mr. Draper’s goal was to create a foundation for the future of Navajo language instruction in the classroom. His goal was realized as Navajo language instruction continues to flourish as a result of his texts. Mr. Draper’s contributions include the creation of Navajo language instruction in many schools such as the Navajo Preparatory School as well as Diné College. His legacy continues as many students continue to benefit from his materials in the classroom.

Cultural Preservationist
language master

Previous AILTA Recipients

Debra Onsae
Craft: Cultural Preservationist, language master
Tribe: Hopi
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