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  • 2024 Judicial Terminology for Navajo Court Interpreters Webinar

2024 Judicial Terminology for Navajo Court Interpreters Webinar

  • 30 Mar 2024
  • 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Zoom


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The Arizona Court Interpreters Association is delighted to present the

2024 Judicial Terminology for Navajo Court Interpreters Webinar.

Diné Góóldijí Bá Atah Hane’ Bina’nitin

This webinar will take place on Saturday, March 30th, 2024

9:00 am – 4:00 pm



Esther Yazzie Lewis, Federally Certified Interpreter

Casey Watchman, Federally Certified Interpreter

Esther Yazzie Lewis grew up south of Farmington, New Mexico on the Navajo Reservation and did her western schooling at the Navajo Methodist Mission in Farmington, New Mexico. In 1971 Esther worked for the Navajo Police Department as a radio dispatcher, police officer, and police clerk. In 1975 Esther was employed by the Window Rock District Court as a Deputy Court Clerk and later as a Probation Officer. In 1979 Esther entered her undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico and matriculated with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Political Science in 1985. In 1990 She received a Master's in Public Administration (M.P.A.) at the University of New Mexico. She also received a second Master’s in American Studies from the University of New Mexico in 1996.

Esther retired from the staff position as the Official Navajo Court Interpreter for the United States District Courts in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Former Chief Justice Robert Yazzie and Esther developed the Navajo/English Legal Glossary published by the United States District Courts in 1984. Esther is also a staff member of the National Center for Interpretation Testing, Research and Policy (NCITRP) based at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, who put together the Federal Navajo interpreting certification examination in 1989 and the New Mexico State Navajo interpreting certification examination in 1993. Esther is the lead trainer for NCITRP with the Navajo Interpreters Institute, University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.

Esther is the founder and director of the Dine Spiritual Land Recovery Project, which was a youth leadership project for Navajo youths. The project goal was to re-teach the Traditional Navajo life management skills through Navajo culture and history by going into the local schools on and off the Navajo country. Esther is a member and a spokesperson for the Southwest Indigenous Uranium Forum (SWIUF). She has lectured both nationally and internationally on Native American issues. Esther is a consultant for the People's Institute for Survival and Beyond in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise in Washington, D.C.

Recently Esther has served as a member of the Diversity Advisory Committee with the Federal Judicial Center also based in Washington, D.C. for which Esther assisted in composing a Guide for Assessment and Training. Esther is a member of the Justice and Women of Color Committee, National Consortium of Task Forces, and Commissions on Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts with the National Center of State Courts. Esther has been invited to serve as a peer review consultant to the National Institute of Justice through the Technical Assistance and Support Program in Washington, D.C. Esther was an advisory committee member to the “All My Relations” project for First Nations and Health Source, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Esther worked with Total Benefits Communication, Atlanta Georgia in presenting the Navajo Nation 401(k) to the Navajo Nation employees with the assistance of the Navajo Nation Retirement Office, Window Rock, Arizona. Esther was a faculty member of the Native American Alliances Foundation which trained Native Americans on “The Healing and Wellness Courts” across the country. Esther has also become a board member of the Southwest Research Information Center, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Casey Watchman passed the US federal court interpreter's exam and became certified on November 26, 1990. Took and passed the Navajo Nation Bar Exam, certified to practice law in the Navajo Nation, on November 24, 1980. Since that time, worked for DNA People's Legal Services as a Navajo Court Advocate, and worked for the Navajo Legal Aide and Public Defender program. The majority of my legal experience has been gained while in private practice as a Court Advocate, presenting cases in English language, many times completely in Navajo.

The University of Arizona established the Navajo Court Interpreter's exam in the late 1980's, I was tested in the prototype, and I have yet to find out my score. After passing the US federal Court exam in 1990, my first exposure to active US federal court interpreting was in July 1992, when Peter MacDonald and others were tried in the Prescott federal court for three months*. This trial engaged my simultaneous mode very extensively, delivering English to Navajo, daily, while 11 defendants were on their headphones listening. Two interpreters were initially engaged, and my associate quit a few weeks into the trial, another interpreter was engaged, and we finished out the trial.

Later, I was engaged to teach court interpreting in three modes: consecutive, sight, and simultaneous for the University of Arizona, for a few years in the 1990s, alongside Esther Yazzie, Bob Yazzie, and the late Alyce Nuendorf.


A terminology workshop in the morning and skills practice and development in the afternoon.

9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Judicial Terminology workshop English ↔ Navajo.

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm:  Lunch

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm   Skills building and technique development. Practice with authentic materials.

$35 for ACIA members.

$65 for non-ACIA members.

We hope all Diné interpreters can attend!

P.O. Box 1286, Phoenix, AZ 85001 |

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