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.
About the Author
Lloyd L. Lee is an assistant professor in the Native American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico. He is also the book review editor for the journal American Indian Quarterly. Lee is Diné of the Towering House and Red Bottom clans. His maternal grandfather clan is Salt and his paternal grandfather clan is Water’s Edge.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii
Foreword Gregory Cajete ix
American Indian Scholars Shawn L. Secatero 14
Part I Frameworks of Understanding
Beneath Our Sacred Minds, Hands, and Hearts: One Dissertation Journey Shawn L. Secatero 19
Understanding Hózhó to Achieve Critical Consciousness: A Contemporary Diné Interpretation of the Philosophical Principles of Hózhó Vincent Werito 25
Morning Offerings, Like Salt Esther Belin 39
7pm thought, memory @ Dzilnaodilthle-Eastern View Venaya Yazzie 44
Part II Analyses of Methodologies
Diné Culture, Decolonization, and the Politics of Hózhó Larry W. Emerson 49
The Value of Oral History on the Path to Diné/Navajo Sovereignty Jennifer Nez Denetdale 68
Narrating Ordinary Power: Hózhóójí, Violence, and Critical Diné Studies Melanie K. Yazzie 83
The Boy Who Threw the World Away Venaya Yazzie 100
Part III Political Challenges
Historic and Demographic Changes That Impact the Future of the Diné and the Development of Community-Based Policy Yolynda Begay 105
The Origin of Legibility: Rethinking Colonialism and Resistance among the Navajo People, 1868-1937 Andrew Curley 129
Dinétah Venaya Yazzie 151
Part IV Paths for the Future
Sustaining a Diné Way of Life Kim Baca 155
"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 158
The Navajo Nation and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Lloyd L. Lee 170
Atmosphere Venaya Yazzie 187
Native American studies