March 16, 2016. Mariano Esquivel, 6, in Flagstaff, Ariz. He recently got a start as a voice actor for the Navajo language version of “Finding Nemo.” (The Associated Press)
A few Flagstaff children are among the voice cast bringing “Finding Nemo” to a Navajo-speaking audience.
For only the second time, a major motion picture has been dubbed in the Navajo language.
This version of “Finding Nemo” opened Friday in select theaters on the Navajo Nation.
Disney and Pixar officials say they chose the animated fish tale because there are only animal characters and few songs.
The movie follows the journey of Marlin, a clown fish, as he searches for his son, Nemo.
The children’s parents tell the Arizona Daily Sun they believe the translation will help keep the Navajo language alive.
Catherine Esquivel’s 6-year-old son Mariano Esquivel voiced a baby turtle in the movie.
“I don’t know that he understands now how huge this is for the Navajo people, to have Disney play a part in retaining our language,” she said. “When he’s older he will think, ‘Wow, this was a great time in my life.'”
“Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” became the first Hollywood feature translated in Navajo in 2013.
That movie is also owned by Disney.
“I love the fact that Navajo has such a place in our history, with the Code Talkers in World War II,” said senior vice president of Disney character voices Rick Dempsey. “If we want to work to preserve a language, this is a great one.”