Meet Our Faculty

Barsine Barney Benally, Instructor

M.A., Doane College, Education
B.A., Arizona State University, Education
A.A., Diné College, Education


Barsine Barney Benally (Diné) is an instructor of Early Childhood Education with the Center for Diné Teacher Education Program at Diné College. Two thousand-twelve will embark her first year at Diné College as a full time faculty member. She has earned her Associates of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and Navajo Language with Diné College. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education with emphasis on Multi-lingual and Multicultural Elementary Education with Arizona State University. She received her Masters of Education Degree in Educational Leadership with Doane College and is currently working on her Graduates Degree in Educational Leadership with Arizona State University.

She has worked eight years as a K-8th instructor for Tsehootsooi Diné Bi’olta’, an immersion school in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Professional endeavors include serving on the Yale National Teacher Initiative, Certified Teacher K-8th and Navajo Bilingually Endorsed K-12th.

Thomas Benally, Instructor

M.Ed., Doane College, Curriculum & Instruction
B.S., Northern Arizona University, Education


My name is Thomas P. Benally, Kin Lichíi’nii, Bit’ahnii báshíshchíín, Kin Yaa’áanii dashicheii dóó Naakaii Dine’é dashinálí. Tsé Nitsaa Deez’áhídéé’ naashá. I worked at Rock Point Community School for twenty-eight years. I started out as a Reading Tutor back in the 1970’s. After that, I held various positions, to name a few: Navajo Literacy Teacher, Navajo Language Evaluator/Specialist, Navajo Language and Culture Specialist, Elementary Principal, and 4th Grade Navajo Language Teacher.

Currently, I am a Center for Diné Teacher Education faculty member. I teach education courses for both the A.A. and B.A. programs. I have worked here at Diné College for thirteen years now. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College, in Crete, Nebraska. I haven been in education for over forty-three years.

Amelia Black, Associate Professor

M.Ed., Arizona State University, Curriculum & Instruction (Bilingual Education)
B.A., Arizona State University, Education

ECE Faculty

Professor Amelia I. Black has taught Early Childhood and Elementary Education courses at Diné College since the inception of the AA Early Childhood Education program and the change to four-year status for Diné College. Throughout her time at Diné College, she’s taught all sequences of Early Childhood Education, Human Development, Special Education, Introduction and Theory courses. In addition to her teaching responsibilities at Diné College, Professor Black serves on the First Things First Navajo Nation Regional Board as an “at large member” and has held the position as Chair for Center for Dine Teacher Education in previous years. She has been a member of the College wide Academic Standards and the Assessment Committee. Outside of Diné College, Professor Black holds an Arizona Department of Education Certificate with endorsements in English as a Second Language, Special Education and Early Childhood Education. She has served as a teacher in the pre-kindergarten to 8th grade environments for over 10 years.

Blackhorse Mitchell, Professor

M.A., University of New Mexico, Secondary Education
B.S., University of New Mexico, Elementary Education
A.S., Diné College, BI/Cultural/Language
A.A., Diné College, Education

BAEE Faculty

Billi’ lizhinii Blackhorse Mitchell was born and raised on Palmer Mesa a place known by Diné People as Tse Dildo’ii above Salt Creek Canyon, New Mexico which is near the Colorado state line in  Northern New  Mexico. He is a Yei’ii Dine’I Tachii’nii born for Naakaii Dine’I. His maternal Grandfather is Hooghan Lani and his paternal Grandfathers are Ashiihi clans. He attended [Ignacio] Boarding School k-1/k-11 in Ignacio High School, Ignacio, Colorado. He received his academic degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1964. Returned to IAIA and received his FA in Literary Writing in 1966 then continued to attain his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1978 from University of New Mexico College of Education. After teaching [14] year in Elementary school, middle school, he returned to UNM College of Education and received his Master’s of Art in Secondary School minored in Classical Language in the area of Dine Language. To date he has worked in  the educational field for 30 years and occasionally worked as Adjunct faculty at Dine College, Shiprock, New Mexico as well as other Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Herman Cody, Associate Professor

Ed.D., Arizona State University, Education
M.A., Northern Arizona University, Bilingual/Multicultural Ed.,
B.S., Northern Arizona University, Elementary Ed. A.A., University of New Mexico, Recreation/Leadership

BAEE Faculty
(928) 724-6703

Dr. Herman Cody was born and raised in the Leupp area of the Navajo Nation at a place called Grand Falls.  He is Tsi’naajinii born for Naakai Dine’é.  His maternal grandfather is Kinyaa’áanii with paternal grandfather as Tódích’íi’nii.  He received his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Master’s in Bilingual/Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University, and his doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University.  He is a Vietnam-era veteran having served in Southeast Asia.  Dr. Cody brings extensive classroom teaching experience to CDTE and is an avid advocate for Diné language revitalization.

Roger P. Benally, Professor

M.Ed., Doane College, Educational Leadership
M.Ed., Doane College, Curriculum & Instruction
B.A., Prescott College, Education

Navajo Language Faculty
M.Ed, Doane College
Educational Leadership
Roger P. Benally’s clans are, Kin {ich7i’nii nil9, Bit’ahnii y1shch77n, Kin Yaa’1anii dabicheii d00 Naakaii Dine’4 dabin1l7. He is originally from Rock Point, Arizona. He was employed by Rock Point Community School for 34 years. He held different positions, such as being the Navajo Language and Culture Teacher, Navajo Science Teacher, Navajo Curriculum Specialist, and being a Navajo Language and Culture Director. He started his employment with Dine College in Center for Dine Studies in fall of 2012. Currently he teaches NAV 101, NAV 102, NAV 201, NAV 202, NAV 211 and NAV 212. He received his BA in Elementary Education from Prescott College. He earned his M.A. degree in Leadership and Curriculum Instructions from Doane College, Nebraska.

Avery Denny, Professor

Diné Medicine Man’s Association, Inc., Hataahlii

Diné Studies Faculty

Clans are T0 dík=zh7 nis[9, T0tsohnnii Báshíshchíín, Ta’neeszahnii dashicheii, Ts4n7jíkiní dashin1l7. Hooshdódiitóódéé’ naashá. I reside in Whippoorwill, Arizona as a member of the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Traditional Educational background:

Hataa[ii, a Singer of the Blessing way/ Hózhóój7, Protection way/ Naayée’eejí, and T[’44j7 Hat11l, The Night Chant. A Hataa[ii holds the highest standard in the community practicing the Navajo Traditional Healing Ceremonies. These ceremonies last two, five and nine nights. These ceremonies are known as a Hat11l or Nahaghá. This skill as a healer is like being physician.

Teaching for over 24 years in the area of Diné Culture and Oral History. Listed below are courses that I teach at Diné College:

  1. Foundation of Navajo Culture
  2. Navajo Oral History
  3. Navajo Philosophy
  4. Navajo Holistic Healing
  5. Navajo Herbology
  6. Dine Educational Philosophy (DEP)
  7. Navajo Spirituality
  8. Navajo Early Child and Adolescent Development

Thomas Littleben Jr., Instructor

B.S., Northern Arizona University, Education
A.A., Diné College, Diné Studies
A.A., Diné College, Navajo Language

Navajo Language Faculty
B.S., Northern Arizona University

Gene Vecenti, Associate Professor

M.Ed., Northern Arizona University, Bilingual/Multicultural Education
B.A., Fort Lewis College, Student Structured
A.A., Diné College, Liberal Arts
A.A., Diné College, Navajo Language
A.A., Diné College, Diné Studies

Navajo Language Faculty
M.Ed, Northern Arizona University

Vecenti de Gene Ortizio Juanajillo Alitizar – comes from the community of Lukachukai. AZ. Has been employed at Navajo Community College, and now Diné College for 34 total years.

Became a Center for Diné Studies Faculty in 1995 and has taught as an Adjunct Faculty in English, Math and Physical Education throughout the years. Academic education includes: Master of Education – Bilingual Multicultural Education – Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff AZ; Bachelor of Arts – Education – Fort Lewis College, Durango CO; Associate of Arts – Diné Studies, Bi-Cultural Specialist, Navajo Language, and Liberal Arts – Diné College, Tsaile AZ.

Credentialed to teach Navajo (Diné) Culture, Language, History, Nation’s Government, Traditional Knowledge, Applied Linguistics, Linguistics, Language Methodology, Language Acquisition, Morphology, Phonology, Syntax, Semantics/Pragmatics, and Discourse. Worked and provided assistance to the Navajo Community College, and Diné College to at-least 5 accreditation processes. Completed the Project Siih Hasin for the 2008 Higher Learning Commission Accreditation.

Provided Leadership and membership to the Student Learning Academic Assessment for more than 20 years. Been in the membership and leadership role for the Academic Standing Committee: Academic Standards, Curriculum, Distance Education, and the Arizona Languages Articulation Task Force (AzLATF).

Dr. Christine M. Ami

Social and Behavioral Science Faculty, also teaching Dine studies courses for NCAP: NIS 185, NIS 197, and NIS 198.
Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Navajo Cultural Arts Program Grant Manager

Yá’át’ééh. Dóone’é nishlínígíí éí Táchii’nii nishlí, Bilagáana báshíshchíín, T’ó’aheedl’ííníí dashicheii, Bilagáana dashinálí.

My name is Christine Ami and, as a faculty member of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, I teach Anthropology, History, and Indigenous Research Methodologies and Methods. I hold a B.A. in Spanish and Foreign Language Education (Rowan University) and a M.A. in Latin American Literature – emphasis in Colonial Studies (University of Maryland, College Park). I received my doctoral degree in Native American Studies with an emphasis in Diné Studies, Animal Studies and Decolonial Studies at the University of California, Davis. My research investigates the nuances of traditional butchering of sheep throughout the Navajo Nation. These variations also correspond with the various approaches to inherent Diné decolonizing practices, which I analyze throughout my dissertation, “Díí jí nída’iil’ah : A Study of Traditional Navajo Butchering.”

Additionally, as the Navajo Cultural Arts Program (NCAP) Grant Manager at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, I am responsible programing associated with the Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Program, the Navajo Cultural Arts Apprenticeship Program as well as various cultural arts lectures and workshops offered throughout the year. For more information about the NCAP, please visit

Tuba City Campus

Jerry Kien, Instructor

B.A., Word Bible College, Theology

Diné Studies Faculty
MA Navajo Language, Culture, and Leadership, Navajo Technical University