Navajo (Diné) and Justice
Justice and the Navajo
The Navajo (Diné) and Justice
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Atta' bichíí, dahohtaat
Sin aniidíí bee Ataa' bichii dahohtaat
Nahasdzáán da hwinees áádee
Diné danohtíni t'áá ánottso
Ataa' bichii dahohtaat.
--Gathering of Nations Song, Source: Gathering of Nations
The ancestral homeland of the Navajo or Diné people resides in the Southwestern portion of the United States with the bulk of the population being located in the States of New Mexico and Arizona. The estimated number of Navajo Language speakers varies widely, depending on the source referenced. The American Community Survey, conducted in 2007, placed the number of speakers at 170,717. Other estimates place the number of speakers ranging from a low of 120,000 to nearly 200,000. The Navajo Language (or Diné bizaad) remained the primary language of the Navajo-Dine until the end of the Second World War after which the fortunes of the language began to shift. The gradual decline in the number of children learning the language continued largely unabated until the 1980s when serious language preservation efforts were underaken.
Navajo or Diné bizaad is a member of the great Athabaskan family of languages, a family member of the sub-family of Na-Dené. It is one of the Southernmost members of the Athabaskan family, the majority of whose members are located in Canada and Alaska. Some linguists have posited a proto-language (unattested) which unites some Languages of the Asian Steppe, the Kartvelian Languages of the Caucauses (Georgian, Megrelian, Svan) with the Na-Dené family of languages. as well as, with the Afro-Asiatic and Indo-European language families. This supra-connection, known as the Nostratic Hypothesis (Campbell, Ivanov, Gamelkrelidze), has garnered wide attention in the realm of theoretical linguistics and is not without merit in supporting evidence drawn from the realms of archaeology, comparative theology and other cross-cultural comparisons such as burial practices.
Until contact with the Pueblo, the Diné had largely been hunter-gatherers. Following contact they began to become more sedentary, relying on sedentary, agricultural lifestyles for sustenance. Upon arrival of and contact with the Spaniards, the Diné also began to engage in herding activities, supplementing their livelihoods with the herding of both sheep and goats. The Navajo's long association with the Pueblo peoples also led to an advanced level of textile production and spinning and weaving became an integral part of Diné culture, yielding an incredibly rich set of cultural practices and traditions still manifest in contemporary society. The Diné are renowned for their rich and colorful production of material goods such as blankets, tapestries and other textiles.
The Navajo or Diné are the largest of the Federally recognized tribal affiliations in the United States, with over 300,041 members according to the last US Census. The Navajo Nation is a self-governing entity operating within the framework and geographical boundaries of the Continental United States. The first occurence of usage of a term by the Spanish to designate one of the Na-Dené Southern Athabaskan language speaking tribal groups was in 1620s. The Spanish first used Apachu de Nabajo to designate the people living in the Chama valley to the East of the San Juan river, near present-day Santa Fe, New Mexico. By the 1640s the Spaniards had begun to utilize the term "Navajo" for the people inhabiting this region and they referred to their homelands as "Dinetah". During the course of the 1760s the Spanish sent the first of many military expeditions to the region.
First official contact with representatives of the Federal Government of the United States occurred in the year 1846 when a military expeditionary force during the course of the Mexican American War entered into the vicinity of Sante Fe under the command of Gen. Stephen Kearney. During the course of that same year a party of US soldiers commanded by Officer John Reid journeyed deep into Navajo country. Narbona and other Navajos negotiated a treaty with Colonel Alexander Doniphan on November 21, 1846, at Bear Springs, Ojo del Oso. In 1849, the military governor of New Mexico, Colonel John Macrae Washington led 400 soldiers into Navajo country, reaching the Canyon de Chelly, signing a treaty with two Navajo leaders.
In 1861, Brigadier-General James H. Carleton, commander of the Federal District of New Mexico, began a military campaign against the Navajo. The famed western frontiersman Kit Carson was ordered by Carleton to launch a military expedition into Navajo land and force them to outright surrender without terms. After a long and vicious campaign and facing great hardship the last of the Navajo resistance was forced to surrender at Canyon de Chelly. The survicors were taken to Fort Defiance and imprisoned on July 20, 1863. This forced removal to reservation lands and the hardships experienced along the way are remembered by the Navajo people as "The Long Walk".
Austin, Ray, Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law, A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the American Indian Studies Program In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy In the Graduate College, the University of Arizona, 2007
Deshna Clah Cheschillige and many other leaders worked for the Navajo people's ability to direct their own affairs. Congress, however, did not allow the Navajo people to attain true self-determination. In fact, the federal government in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century wanted all Native people to assimilate to Western society. Today, Native nations supposedly have the ability to self-determine, yet numerous United States Supreme Court decisions have limited tribal sovereignty. So, if Native nations have limited sovereignty, how does that affect Native nationalism?Before 1923, the Navajo Nation did not have a Western political government. Since 1923, the Navajo people have been building their nation along the Western concept of a nation. What does it mean to have the Navajo Nation? How do Navajo people devote their interest to the Navajo Nation? What does Navajo nationalism look like in the twenty-first century? Should the Navajo Nation work toward self-sufficiency? National independence? Navajo society has undergone many changes in the twentieth century, and a thorough discussion of Navajo nationalism will help create a better Navajo society for the coming decades.
Introduction by Wallace Coffey: I would like to acknowledge all of our friends and relatives who have taken time to come and be with us. One of my good friends and colleagues and a former attorney for our Comanche tribe is here, Glen Feldman, and I know that he worked tremendously hard on the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, many times in the years back, and that's why we are going to discuss today the issues with regard to the implementation of the AIRFA. But I wanted to share with you that right after we conclude this panel, I'm going to call on my brother over there from the Ho-Chunk Nation to do a prayer and a short ceremony for Arvol Looking Horse. He just got a call that his mother is going into the hospital for back surgery. They were planning on leaving this conference and taking her up into Canada so she can participate in a ceremony, a healing ceremony, but unfortunately she had to be taken into the hospital on an emergency basis, so as Indian people, we always take time and we pray—pray to the spirits of our ancestors and through our loved ones that they will watch over and comfort his mom while she is going through this serious operation on her back. And to those of you who still have your parents, I wish you the best. I hope you have your parents—your moms and dads—for a long time
Indian inmates are building their own sweat lodges for their ceremonies. "The sweat lodge is a very important and ancient practice of our indigenous people of North America," says Lenny Foster, director of the Navajo Nation Corrections Project. "It's a central part of the ceremony and provides spiritual foundation for ceremonies and practices." Through the sweat lodge, Indians believe they receive insight, cleansing, and purification. Indian inmates believe that as they have become more and more immersed in Indian traditions and religious beliefs, they have found a peace and spiritual perspective that helps them maintain a positive attitude while in prison. Sharing in the ceremonies of the sweat lodge also creates a supportive bond with other Indian inmates.
Although the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, by the mid-1800's, nearly all aspects of traditional Native American religious practices were against the law. Not until the late 1970's did the Federal Government acknowledge its long history of Native American religious repression. In 1978, Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA), which specifies the many ways that the Federal Government has failed to recognize Indian religions and has interfered with or prohibited their free exercise. AIRFA, however, has been more of a policy statement than a law with enforcement mechanisms that require compliance in particular situations.
One hundred documents written by Diné men, women, and children speaking for themselves and on behalf of their communities are collected in this book. Discovered during Iverson's research for Diné.
Kunitz, Stephen J., Jerrold E. Levy, Joanne McCloskey and K. Ruben Gabriel, Alcohol Dependence and Domestic Violence as Sequelae of Abuse and Conduct Disorder in Childhood, Child Abuse & Neglect, Vol. 22, No. 11, pp. 1079–1091, ©1998 Elsevier Science Ltd
The causes, consequences, and secular trends of abuse of children have been of increasing interest in the past several decades. Much of that concern has manifested itself in American Indian communities as well. In this paper we use data from a study of alcohol use and abuse by Navajo Indians to examine one small piece of the problem: the degree to which abuse in childhood is a risk factor for alcohol dependence and domestic violence. The evidence from Native American communities, limited though it is, indicates that child abuse is not unknown (US Congress Ofﬁce of Technology Assessment, 1990). For Navajo children, White and Cornely (1981) and Hauswald (1987) report a rate of 13.5 per 1,000. Drawing on a medical chart review and staff survey at the San Carlos (Apache) Indian Health Service Hospital, Fischler (1985) found a rate of 5.7 per 1,000. For Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation children, Wichlacz, Lane, and Kempe (1978) reported a rate of 26 per 1,000, derived from a register of suspected cases. In a study of an Alaskan village, one third (28 of 84) of the native children were considered to have severe problems of abuse, neglect, and homelessness related to poverty and demoralization in the village (Jones, 1969); and a study in an unidentiﬁed southwestern Indian community reported a history of childhood sexual abuse of 49% among women and 14% among men (Robin, Chester, Rasmussen, Jaranson, & Goldman, 1997).
Civilian oversight of police is an increasingly important policy practice in the United States and dates back more than 30 years. 1 Recent studies have determined that there are now more than 90 different civilian review procedures in the United States and that three-fourths of the nation's 50 largest cities have some form of civilian review (Walker 1998b). In particular, it now appears that civilian oversight systems are becoming more prevalent in Indian Country. 2 Furthermore, while police throughout the United States are generally opposed to civilian oversight, American Indian tribal police departments are outspoken in their support of the concept and its implementation in the communities they serve.
This article examines the record of the American judicial system in the protection of American Indian prisoners in the exercise of their religious rights. The article briefly examines the factors related to the high rates of Indian incarceration and the important role of Indian spiritual values and the exercise of Indian religious practices in the process of rehabilitation. The Supreme Court has ruled that all prisoners retain the right to practice their religion if the exercise of these rights does not interfere with legitimate penological interests. Whether due to ignorance of spiritual native values and practices, latent discrimination, or the overly strict interpretation of judicial tests, Indian inmates in the last decade have found it difficult to obtain support from the courts for the exercise of their religious rights.
In the mid 1930s, surveyors and other agents from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the Soil Conservation Service descended on the Navajo Reservation in the southwest USA. During their short stay, the surveyors produced detailed reports on the extent of overgrazing and soil erosion on the reservation. The reports, which contained maps, tables of numbers, accounts, and photographs claimed to depict and represent the real. As part of social survey research, popular in the UK and US from the turn of the century until World War II, the Navajo documents, as we refer to them, used a form of family budget or income and expenditure report to construct the Navajo economically. Indeed, Navajo families were referred to as consumption units or groups. The economic construction of the Navajo permitted the construction of an economic solution to the Navajo problem. In effect it was demonstrated economically, that the impact of stock reductions, thought necessary to prevent further soil erosion, could be offset by increased agriculture. In contrast to the economic claims, the stock reductions were an economic and social disaster for the Navajo.
This chapter discusses the issues surrounding the lack of criminal justice for women living on the Navajo Reservation and includes a short review of American Indian law as it relates to the Navajo Nation. To shed light on the problems associated with the health and welfare of women living on the Navajo Reservation, there is a discussion of the federal and tribal laws that govern violence against women. To fully elucidate the problems regarding the crimes committed on the Navajo Reservation, there is a discussion on the Major Crimes Act and the Dawes Act, otherwise known as the General Allotment Act. This chapter also discusses the similarities of vulnerability in sexual assaults against women living in rural American and women living on the Navajo Reservation. The chapter describes the efforts of community members and nurses working in Chinle, Arizona, who hope to address the issues surrounding sexual assault and violence against women.
In the winter of 2000, Judge Dorothy McCarter of Helena, Montana ordered Dawn Sprinkle, who had been convicted of using drugs during pregnancy and who later violated her probation, not to get pregnant for ten years. Specifically, Judge McCarter sentenced her to ten years in prison (suspending five), and ordered Sprinkle to take birth control pills and report for regular pregnancy tests at the local jail. Should Sprinkle become pregnant after serving her time, Judge McCarter would jail her again or place her under some other form of intensive supervision. As a twenty-nine-year-old woman, Sprinkle thus faced a decade of intrusive regulation into her intimate life and health care decisions, as well as the chance that this sentence would foreclose the possibility of her ever again having a child.