A History of Peacemaking and Incarceration with the Dine People

byJolene Smith

Peacemaking, a method the Navajos used since early 1700 to 1800s. Peacemaking is a Native American traditional way to resolve issues within a band, a way for individuals to reconcile and not punish. All participants contribute and help the wrongdoer correct the action and for the wrongdoer to know the incident is fulfilled and is a better person. The sudden mass incarceration of the Dine people caught the bands off guard. The U.S. generals, colonels, and soldiers captured many men, women, and children. The forced march is known as “Long Walk,” to the reservation, Bosque Redondo. The loss of Navajo lives and prison suffering led to the breakdown of the band community. The peacemaking structure replaced by Western society’s format of governing the prisoners, which is to punish. Today, the Navajo correction facilities use the cultural concept of K’e to help the detainees pray, sing, and cleanse their body, mind, and spirit to think about how to correct the wrong. The K’e model is a restorative justice program to help the inmate feel good about the mediation. The two entities work collaboratively to develop a system of justice that benefits the Navajo people.

Keywords: Native American; Dine; Navajo; Peacemaking; Police; Courts; Long Walk; Hweedli; Bosque Redondo; Naa’t’naani; band; community; Restorative Justice;

(Developed for Social Studies - History, grade 5)

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