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We Will Secure Our Future

Empowering the Navajo Nation

The University of Arizona Press
Nearing graduation from  Phoenix Indian School, Peterson Zah decided he wanted to attend college. He was refused the reference letters needed for college admission by teachers who told him he would fail and thus embarrass them. Several years later, these instructors would receive invitations from Zah to a party celebrating his graduation from Arizona State University.

And so began a career that took Zah to the presidency of the Navajo Nation. His life and accomplishments have exemplified the ongoing efforts by American Indian communities to gain greater control over their lives and lands. He has made important contributions in many areas, but education has always been one of his main priorities. Perhaps  no one in the Southwest has done more than Peterson Zah to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation of American Indian students from colleges and universities.

Zah's presentations to Peter Iverson's classes at Arizona State University,  employed  examples drawn from his own experiences. Students praised his thoughtful, honest and direct observations.  He reinforced a central theme in Iverson's classesthat Indian history encompasses triumph as well as tragedy and victory as well as victimization.

This book grew out of  Iverson's determination to share Zah's insights  with a wider audience. The two met every few months to consider many subjects related to Zah's life.  These sessions formed the foundation for this volume.

Part autobiography, part interview, and part conversation, Zah and Iverson's account touches on a wide range of overlapping topics, but two central themes prevail: education and empowerment. We Will Secure Our Future is a fascinating look into the life of a man who  became a respected visionary and passionate advocate for his people. 
 
Iverson and Zah provide a source for young people to contemplate as they take the reins of ownership in the twenty-first century."—New Mexico Historical Review

“A uniquely collaborative work that is different enough to warrant real attention, and substantive enough to provide a solid education about this important Diné figure—and in his own words, no less.”  —David E. Wilkins, co-author of American Indian Politics and the  American Political System

Born in Keams Canyon, Arizona, in 1937, Peterson Zah became director of the Navajo Legal Services Program. He was later elected  as chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council and then as president of the Navajo Nation. He was also a special advisor to the president of Arizona State University which presented him with an honorary doctorate in 2005.  Peter Iverson is Regents' Professor of History (emeritus) at Arizona State University. He is the author or editor of 15 books including Diné: A History of the Navajos and "We Are Still Here": American Indians in the Twentieth Century.

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