Environmental & Public Health Research Support
Dine College’s Uranium Education Program (UEP) is an empowerment program for Navajo Native Americans concerning radiation and environmental health issues arising from the legacy of former uranium mining/milling operations and other serious environmental impacts on the Navajo reservation. Uranium mining and milling has left large areas of the Navajo reservation contaminated with abandoned mines, mine waste and mill tailings and associated radiation. There are well-documented problems with lung cancer and silicosis in former Navajo uranium miners, and there is great concern among uranium millers and other Navajos who reside near contaminated areas about late effects of radiation exposure from these sources. There has been growing concerns over various environmental issues and their impacts to health and the environment.
A growing partnership between Dine’ College – UEP and the local Navajo community, IHS primary care physicians, the Navajo Division of Health, Saccomanno Research Institute of Grand Junction, the University of New Mexico Center for Health Promotion for Rural American Indians, the Northern Arizona University’s Environmental Outreach Program, US-EPA, US Army Corp of Engineers, and researchers/scientists with expertise in radiation and environmental health issues will be maintained and expanded to provide information and skills for this minority group. The emphasis in the educational program will be on empowering local Navajo community members to assess information needs, to plan and design mitigation actions to address these concerns, establish research directions, and to evaluate their educational efforts in their own community with culturally competent modalities. In addition, UEP will strive to establish ongoing community efforts beyond the period of this project.
The educational philosophy of Diné College “Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoo”, the Diné traditional living system, places Dine’ life in harmony with the natural world and the universe. This unique educational philosophy and mission is grounded in Navajo cultural traditions. The philosophy provides principles both for protection from the imperfections in life and for the development of well-being. The Diné Educational Philosophy, developed by Navajo cultural specialists, represents the essence of the Navajo outlook on life. As shown in the figure below, the core of this philosophy is expressed in concepts and values associated with natural processes identified with the four cardinal directions, including such processes as the daily cycle of day and night and the annual cycle of the seasons. Diné College fulfills its mission by using the Sa’ah Naaghái Bik’eh Hozhoo principle as a framework to educate its students:
- Nitsáhákees (Thinking), Nahat’á (Planning), Iiná (Living) and Sihasin (Assurance)
- Studying Diné language, history, and culture
- Preparing for further studies and employment in a multi-cultural and technological world
- Fostering social responsibility, community service and scholarly research that contribute to the social, economic and cultural well being of the Navajo Nation.
This philosophy guides all aspects of Diné College’s educational planning activities, as well as priority setting and implementation of research projects.