Berard Haile

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Berard Haile

Born(1874-06-01)June 1, 1874
Akron, Ohio
DiedSeptember 30, 1961(1961-09-30) (aged 87)
Santa Fe, New Mexico
EducationCatholic University of America, MA, 1929
Occupationmissionary • linguist • anthropologist
Years active1901–1954
ReligionRoman Catholic
OrdainedJune 29, 1898

Father Berard Haile (1874–1961), O.F.M., was a Franciscan priest and one of the foremost authorities on Navajo anthropology.[1] He entered the Franciscan Order in 1891 and was ordained a priest on June 29, 1898. He served at St. Michael's Mission, a Franciscan mission to the Navajo at St. Michaels, Arizona, and at other missions in the Southwest, from 1901 to 1954, where he developed an interest in Navajo language and culture.[2][3][4] He helped devise a written alphabet of the Navajo language and published a four volume work on learning Navajo.[5] In 1929 Haile attended the Catholic University of America and obtained a master's degree. He then accepted the position of Research Associate in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He made a field trip with Edward Sapir through Navajo land that was sponsored by the Laboratory of Anthropology at Santa Fe, New Mexico. Haile devised a new Navajo alphabet containing over sixty characters. His other major work dealt with the creation story of the Navajo, Diné Bahaneʼ.[6]

Haile was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree from St. Bonaventure University in 1951, and a Doctor of Laws degree in 1952 from the University of New Mexico. In 1953 the Navajo Tribal Council passed a resolution which read in part: "Father Berard Haile has spent his life among the Navajo people learning to know and understand us and our religion, and has, more than any other living non-Indian, through close contact with Navajos and the medicine men of our tribe and by his indefatigable labor, reduced our language to written form and succeeded in preserving for future generations the knowledge of the Navajo history and religion."[7]


  1. ^ Fr. Roldan Parker, O.F.M. "Scholar to the Navajo", St. Anthony Messenger, September, 1962, pp. 36-39
  2. ^ Herzfeld, Regina Flannery (1962), "Berard Haile, O.F.M. (1874-1961)", Anthropological Quarterly, 35 (1): 33–34, JSTOR 3316699
  3. ^ Hellmann, George (1999), A Necrology of Friars of the Custody & Province of St. John Baptist,... (PDF), Cincinnati, Ohio: Franciscan Archives Cincinnati, Province of St. John Baptist, Order of Friars Minor
  4. ^ Powell, Donald M. (1961), "A Preliminary Bibliography of the Published Writings of Berard Haile, O.F.M.", Kiva, 26 (4): 44–47, JSTOR 30246993
  5. ^ Haile, Berard. (1941–1948). Learning Navaho, (Vols. 1–4). St. Michaels, AZ: St. Michael's Mission.
  6. ^ Haile, Berard. Origin Legend of the Navajo Enemy Way. New Haven: Yale University Press. Yale University Publications in Anthropology, no. 17, 1938.
  7. ^ Bodo, Murray (1998), Tales of an Endishodi: Father Berard Haile and the Navajos, 1900-1961, Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, p. 224, ISBN 0-8263-1829-0