Diné Policy Institute
Navajo Brain Drain
DPI submitted an abstract for presentation on the first phase of the Navajo Brain Drain study to the 2012 Navajo Studies Conference, which will be held in Santa Fe, NM from March 14-17, 2012. The proposal was accepted and DPI will present on the study at the conference. The conference may also publish a short version of the paper that is being composed on the study.
DPI is still in communication with its research partners from Brigham Young University regarding submission of a comprehensive paper on the study to academic journals within the next several months. Due to the demands of other DPI projects, as well as the busy schedule of BYU partners, further work on a comprehensive draft paper have been slightly delayed. However, DPI plans to focus efforts on this project in the coming months, leading to publication in an academic journal.
Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance Grant Submitted
On January 30, 2012 Diné Policy Institute, working with Center for Diné Teacher Education, submitted a proposal to the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) for a Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance grant. DPI coordinated a core committee made up of faculty and staff from Diné College’s Center for Diné Studies, Center for Diné Teacher Education and DPI to develop the project, which will be overseen by DPI if funded. The project is designed to create a comprehensive strategy to stem the loss of Navajo language in Tsaile/Wheatfields and Diné College communities, resulting in the composition of a Diné Language Master Plan for implementation in the college and community. In developing the project, DPI staff and committee members met with chapter officials, senior citizens, college students and faculty, and other community members, all of whom voiced support for, shaped, and endorsed the design of the project. The proposal was presented to, and officially supported by, the Navajo Nation Board of Education, Chinle Agency Council, Tsaile/Wheatfields Chapter, Lukachukai Chapter and the Navajo Nation Council. The impact of the project promises to be far-reaching. Implementation of the project will identify new pathways for programming and collaborative efforts for Navajo language learning and strengthen ties between the college and the surrounding community, while the Diné Language Master Plan will be crafted such that it can also be applied to language revitalization efforts in other communities throughout the Navajo Nation. Proposals will be reviewed and scored from March through May 2012 and ANA will likely notify awardees by June 2012. Funds are expected to be available to awardees in August 2012.
Food Policy Research
In 2011, DPI initiated its research on Diné Food Systems, Food Sovereignty and Food Policy. The purpose of this research is to analyze how traditional and sustainable food practices can be supported and revitalized to address the high rates of nutritionally related illnesses on the Navajo Nation as well as to rebuild local food economies. Over the summer, DPI compiled research documenting the historical transition in Diné diet, correlating the shift from a pre-contact diet to highly processed, Western foods with the rise of nutritionally related illness among Diné people, including diabetes and obesity. From this research, a number of public education presentations, including to Diné College classes, have been conducted. This research is also being presented at the Navajo Studies Conference on March 16, 2012 in Santa Fe, NM.
In order to move its work on Diné Food Systems, Food Sovereignty and Food Policy forward, Diné Policy Institute is looking for funding to continue research. Currently, DPI is applying for a grant with the First Nations Development Institute - Native Agriculture and Food System Initiative for $45,000 to fund the creation of a regional food policy for Tsaile, Lukachukai, Chinle, and Many Farms; a feasibility study for a Farmers’ Market in Tsaile, AZ; and to continue public education and outreach on Diné Food System issues in conjunction with the Land Grant Office.
NIS 199 Research Methods Class
This semester, DPI is piloting an internship course entitled “Introduction to Policy Research Methods.” The purpose of establishing this course is to increases DPI’s involvement with the Diné College students as well as to provide students with the incentive to participate in an internship and learn about research through course credit. The objectives of this course are that students:
- Learn foundational principles of qualitative and quantitative research.
- Learn and employ various tools for conducting socio-political research.
- Gain understanding of Diné Policy Institute’s unique approach to research, incorporating both traditional Diné and mainstream academic research methods.
- Familiarize themselves with policy issues of critical importance to the Navajo Nation and contribute to DPI’s work on addressing these issues.
- Gain professional work experience in a research institute environment.
By the end of semester, students will research and produce an 8 page policy position paper. Currently, there are three students enrolled in the course and we expect all of the students to complete the course. Having established best practices from this pilot course, DPI plans to make this class a regular course offering in the Diné College catalog for upcoming semesters.
Navajo Nation Council
Diné Policy Institute is currently working with the Navajo Nation Council’s Sub-committee on Government Reform:
Dine Policy Institute is revising the definitions of Nitsáhákees, Nahat'á, Iiná and Sih hasin (herein NNIS) contained in the Navajo Nation Code Title II in an effort to establish and promote traditional principles of good governance for the overall Navajo Nation government. These definitions to be understood as process and tools for making effective decisions making will assist Navajo Nation Council Delegates and other governmental officials within the three branch government to critically think out issues, to carefully plan and organize solutions, act and implement the solutions and assess and the reflect on the outcome. The NNIS definitions are drafted in Navajo and the English translation is forthcoming. The NNIS paradigm will be used to develop educational training for decision-making, leadership development and guiding framework for the proposed Ethic and Rules Commission.
The Advisory Circle assisted DPI with guidance and recommendation in the drafting of the NNIS in the Navajo language using Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón concepts. The Advisory Circle consisting of Diné ceremonial practitioners, community members, and scholars regularly assists DPI to discuss and finalize proposed recommendations on policy issues impacting the Navajo Nation.
Integrating Navajo traditional concepts of authority in the Local Governance Act. Draft policy statement on proposed Title 26 amendments. Provide draft definitions on NNIS to Community Development Office.
Create government models consistent with Hane’ and Diné Bi Beenahaz'áanii. Present at Navajo Nation Government Development Commission work session on bicameral and decentralize government models. Provide technical advice on proposed Office of Navajo Nation Government Development models, chapter boundaries, and reapportionment of representation and on proposed referendum. Discuss election position paper on Chapter membership and boundaries.
Honorable Dwight Witherspoon requested a White paper on the Navajo Nation Department of Human Resources (NNDR) practice in regards to DPIs ‘Brain Drain’ findings. This report is forthcoming since the research did not specially address Navajo Nation Department of Human Resource practices.
Navajo Studies Conference- Presentation and paper on Traditional Navajo Leadership styles and government models.