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Diné Perspectives

Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought

Edited by Lloyd L. Lee; Foreword by Gregory Cajete

Publication Year: 2014

What does it mean to be a Navajo (Diné) person today? What does it mean to “respect tradition”? How can a contemporary life be informed by the traditions of the past? These are the kinds of questions addressed by contributors to this unusual and pathbreaking book.
All of the contributors are coming to personal terms with a phrase that underpins the matrix of Diné culture: Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón. Often referred to simply as SNBH, the phrase can be translated in many ways but is generally understood to mean “one’s journey of striving to live a long, harmonious life.” The book offers a variety of perspectives of Diné men and women on the Diné cultural paradigm that is embedded in SNBH. Their writings represent embodied knowledge grounded in a way of knowing that connects thought, speech, experience, history, tradition, and land. Some of the contributors are scholars. Some are Diné who are fighting for justice and prosperity for the Navajo Nation. Some are poets and artists. They are united in working to preserve both intellectual and cultural sovereignty for Diné peoples. And their contributions exemplify how Indigenous peoples are creatively applying tools of decolonization and critical research to re-create Indigenous thought and culture in a present day that rarely resembles the days of their ancestors.
More than 300,000 people self-identify as Diné today. Every one must grapple with how to make a life that acknowledges Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón. Diné Perspectives is unique in bringing such personal journeys to the public eye.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Series: Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies

Title Page, Editorial Board, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Gregory Cajete

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pp. ix-xii

Epistemology, or how we come to know what we know, provides the philosophical foundations through which we gain perspectives of the world. In turn, our overall philosophy guides our individual and collective behavior in the world. How we apply philosophy forms and informs our culture and...

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pp. xiii-2

When I was a boy, I never asked my parents or relatives what it means to be Diné (Navajo). Although I am Diné, I do not speak the language fluently. My parents and relatives speak the language on a daily basis. I attend various ceremonies during the spring, summer, autumn, and winter seasons...

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pp. 3-13

This book features Diné men and women’s personal perspectives of a distinct Diné matrix and their thoughts on the challenges that Diné peoples face. I use Viola F. Cordova’s term “matrix.” Her writings were compiled into How It Is: The Native American Philosophy of V. F. Cordova (2007), edited by Kathleen Dean Moore, Kurt Peters, Ted Jojola, and Amber Lacy...

American Indian Scholars

Shawn L. Secatero

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pp. 14-16

Part I. Frameworks of Understanding

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Beneath Our Sacred Minds, Hands, and Hearts: One Dissertation Journey

Shawn L. Secatero

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pp. 19-24

Today, very few statistics and demographics are available on persistence and success rates for American Indian graduate and professional students. Only a few identifiable quantitative data studies exist. As for qualitative data, “No study, to date, has been published on the experiences of AI/AN...

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Understanding Hózhó to Achieve Critical Consciousness: A Contemporary Diné Interpretation of the Philosophical Principles of Hózhó

Vincent Werito

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pp. 25-38

I awoke to the sweet smell of burning cedar and juniper in the stove, the sound of light footsteps shuffling around in the house, and the whispered voices of my mother and father telling my brothers and me to wake up. Then, I felt a warm strong hand on my shoulder and heard the voice of

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Morning Offerings, Like Salt

Esther Belin

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pp. 39-43

I am surrounded by the rocks from Dibé Ntsaa. At my desk, the rocks sit and write with me. The story penetrates like early spring wind, creamy and spread evenly along my spine. The rock crystals breathe and rest. Their sharp edges speak in rhythmic high tones trailed by melodious low tones...

7pm thought, memory @ Dziłnaodiłthle-Eastern View

Venaya Yazzie

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pp. 44-46

Part II. Analyses of Methodologies

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Diné Culture, Decolonization, and the Politics of Hózhó

Larry W. Emerson

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pp. 49-67

My life work has been a journey and quest to integrate Diné hózhó˛ and k’é teachings into my work as a Diné scholar. We have a responsibility to identify ways of knowing that can help us understand the nature of our struggle and quest for freedom. My quest is not limited to a local one. Instead, the...

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The Value of Oral History on the Path to Diné/Navajo Sovereignty

Jennifer Nez Denetdale

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pp. 68-82

One day my father walked into the house and placed a gray stone slab, about 8 x 16 inches, on the kitchen table. One side of the flat sandstone was rough and of a familiar red color. On the other side, the surface had been polished to a smooth black from so much use. My mother looked at...

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Narrating Ordinary Power: Hózhóójí, Violence, and Critical Diné Studies

Melanie K. Yazzie

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pp. 83-99

A couple of weekends ago, my sister drove down from Boulder, Colorado, to come with me to a Kinaaldá to which one of my Diné mentors had invited me. It was a difficult time; my semester at the University of New Mexico was coming to a rapid and stressful end. Student papers, research...

The Boy Who Threw the World Away

Venaya Yazzie

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pp. 100-102

Part III. Political Challenges

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Historic and Demographic Changes That Impact the Future of the Diné and the Development of Community-Based Policy

Yolynda Begay

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pp. 105-128

The stories and narratives of the Diné peoples have been told from the outsider’s point of view, and this often portrays a different perspective. This research gives me, as a scholar, the opportunity to mesh my professional training as a community-based planner and my Diné identity into a chapter...

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The Origin of Legibility: Rethinking Colonialism and Resistance among the Navajo People, 1868–1937

Andrew Curley

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pp. 129-150

Rethinking colonization and resistance, in the context of this chapter, refers to historically analyzing the formation of the legal-political category “Navajo” and suggests contemporary implications for how we think about it and the people called Diné today.1 In other words, the story of the Navajos...


Venaya Yazzie

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pp. 151-152

Part IV. Paths for the Future

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Sustaining a Diné Way of Life

Kim Baca

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pp. 155-157

They wear tennis shoes, T-shirts, and jeans. They listen to popular music like other teens. They are also Navajos, citizens of the largest American Indian tribe in the United States. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Navajos make up a significant part of the Native American population in this...

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“If I Could Speak Navajo, I’d Definitely Speak It 24/7”: Diné Youth Language Consciousness, Activism, and Reclamation of Diné Identity

Tiffany S. Lee

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pp. 158-169

In the world of language education, the Navajo Nation is well known for its schools, such as Rough Rock Demonstration School, Rock Point Community School, and Tséhootsooí Diné Bi’ólta’ (a Navajo immersion school in Fort Defiance, Arizona). The Rough Rock Demonstration...

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The Navajo Nation and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Lloyd L. Lee

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pp. 170-186

On September 13, 2007, by a vote of 143 to 4 with 11 abstentions, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It was a thirty-year process. Numerous individuals and representatives worked tirelessly to ensure its reality. The declaration...


Venaya Yazzie

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pp. 187-188


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pp. 189-194


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pp. 195-196

E-ISBN-13: 9780816598922
E-ISBN-10: 0816598924
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530922
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530920

Page Count: 210
Illustrations: 4 images, 11 figures, 2 tables
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies