Navajo Sovereignty
216 pages, 6 x 9
8 b&w illustrations, 1 map, 1 table
Release Date:11 Apr 2017

Navajo Sovereignty

Understandings and Visions of the Diné People

Edited by Lloyd L. Lee; Foreword by Jennifer Nez Denetdale
The University of Arizona Press

The last few decades have given rise to an electrifying movement of Native American activism, scholarship, and creative work challenging five hundred years of U.S. colonization of Native lands. Indigenous communities are envisioning and building their nations and are making decolonial strides toward regaining power from colonial forces.

The Navajo Nation is among the many Native nations in the United States pushing back. In this new book, Diné author Lloyd L. Lee asks fellow Navajo scholars, writers, and community members to envision sovereignty for the Navajo Nation. He asks, (1) what is Navajo sovereignty, (2) how do various Navajo institutions exercise sovereignty, (3) what challenges does Navajo sovereignty face in the coming generations, and (4) how did individual Diné envision sovereignty?

Contributors expand from the questions Lee lays before them to touch on how Navajo sovereignty is understood in Western law, how various institutions of the Navajo Nation exercise sovereignty, what challenges it faces in coming generations, and how individual Diné envision power, authority, and autonomy for the people.

A companion to Diné Perspectives: Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought, each chapter offers the contributors’ individual perspectives. The book, which is organized into four parts, discusses Western law’s view of Diné sovereignty, research, activism, creativity, and community, and Navajo sovereignty in traditional education. Above all, Lee and the contributing scholars and community members call for the rethinking of Navajo sovereignty in a way more rooted in Navajo beliefs, culture, and values.


Raymond D. Austin

Bidtah N. Becker

Manley A. Begay, Jr.

Avery Denny

Larry W. Emerson

Colleen Gorman

Michelle L. Hale

Michael Lerma

Leola Tsinnajinnie

Given that the Navajos, along with other Indian nations, live under the political domination of the United States and that the tenets of decolonization call for Indians to return to traditional forms of governance, this collection of essays will remain relevant for years to come.'—James Riding In, co-editor of Native Historians Write Back: Decolonizing American Indian History
Navajo Sovereignty: Understandings and Visions of the Diné People tackles Indigenous sovereignty from a specifically Navajo perspective. The essays vary in tone and depth, but they all hit on or near the bulls-eye.’—Indian Country Today

Lloyd L. Lee is a citizen of the Navajo Nation. He is an associate professor of Native American studies at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of Diné Masculinities: Conceptualizations and Reflections and editor of Diné Perspectives: Reclaiming and Revitalizing Navajo Thought. He is the former director of the Institute for American Indian Research (IFAIR) and on the American Indian Studies Association council.

Foreword by Jennifer Denetdale


Diné Sovereignty, a Legal and Traditional Analysis
Justice Raymond D. Austin
Sovereignty from the Individual Diné Experience
Bidtah Nellie Becker

The Path of Navajo Sovereignty in Traditional Education: Harmony, Disruption, Distress, and Restoration of Harmony
Manley A. Begay Jr.
I Am Your Nali
Leola Tsinnajinnie

Diné Principles of Good Governance
Avery Denny and Michael Lerma
Empowered Sovereignty for Navajo Chapters Through Engagement in a Community-Planning Process
Michelle Hale

Creativity and Vision
Navajo Sovereignty Through the Lens of Creativity, Imagination, and Vision
Colleen Gorman
Diné Sovereign Action: Rejecting Colonial Sovereignty and Invoking Diné Peacemaking
Larry W. Emerson

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