Dr. Fred Begay was a physicist, a founding member of SACNAS and an advocate for education as well as diversity in science who also focused on connecting Navajo culture and modern science. NOVA premiered the documentary Long Walk of Fred Young January 11, 1979.
Ancient Navajo thought contains many parallels to modern scientific concepts, including radiation (Tsa’jilgish in the Navajo language), and lasers (Hatsoo’algha k’aa’), according to Navajo physicist Fred Begay, who has spent hundreds of hours translating and making the connections between traditional Navajo beliefs and modern science. He has done this in addition to his research in nuclear physics and his numerous outreach and education efforts to help the Native American community.
Begay was born in 1932 on the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation in Colorado. His parents, who were Navajo and Ute healers and spiritual leaders (Hataaliis), taught him traditional Navajo ceremonies. “ It turns out many of the prayers and songs have built in lots of science,”says Begay. “I was immersed in all that knowledge before I even got to the first grade. ”
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