A History of Peacemaking and Incarceration with the Dine People

byJolene Smith


Our country has a significant problem. Many of our minorities face incarceration. Minorities like African and Latino Americans and the Indigenous people in America have a high rate of getting caught in the jail and prison system. The government judicial system is not a perfect entity and has caused many minorities to fall into tracks of incarceration. The history of African American incarceration was publicly known since they have been forcibly chained and dragged onto the New America’s shore. They are the dominated minority and have had extensive media exposure from civil right activists, religious minister, movies, literature, dances, and songs. They deserve a voice because they have been oppressed since captured from their homeland thousands of miles away. They cannot return to their homeland and live their original lives because their culture, language, family, and spiritual beliefs have been stripped away and beaten out of them.

Today, many of the African Americans have taken advantage of the American Dream and have obtain an education, a good job, beautiful home, and vehicle, raise an American family and obey the laws of the land. These standard structures of living like a middle-class American. But, not all minorities live the American Dream, and many young minorities are targeted by police officers as criminals while standing at a corner in a group. The scene is a similar scenario observed by police officers across the Nation. Not only to African Americans but for Latinos and American Indians as well. The American Indians are a very small percent when it comes to discussing criminal incidents and these data are not individually analyzed as tribal figures. Once again the system compile all Indigenous statistics as one group. When data is needed individual tribes need to compile their own data then report their information to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 4.8 million persons lived on American Indian reservations or in Alaska Native villages in the United States in 2010, the most recent data available.1 There are about 600 tribal entities, and 334 are federal, and state recognizes tribes. The Diné (Navajo) Nation is one of the acknowledge tribe and known to live on the largest Reservation in the United States. The Reservation located within the four-corner area encompassing the four sacred mountains on the Colorado Plateau. The populations of Navajo residence living on the Reservation is an estimate of 170,000 people. The Nation has six correction facilities operation in significant towns like Tuba City, Chinle, Window Rock, Shiprock, Crownpoint, and Kayenta. Three of the towns (Tuba City, Chinle, and Crownpoint) have adult and juvenile/youth correction centers, whereas the other three towns do not. These facilities transport juveniles to the nearby outlaying youth correction facilities, so juveniles and adults are not intermingling.

The students who attend the Kayenta school district and the Bureau of Education School across the street are aware of the local Correctional Facility. It is one of the more significant new building in town with high wired fence and locked entrances. Students have had a family member spend a night or two are the local jail. They have seen a police officer’s unit parked in front of the school building and know someone is in trouble with drugs, usually marijuana or not complying with the school rules. Our school has an In-School-Suspension (ISS) classroom and not very many student referrals end up there. Once in a while a handful are sitting in the class and it is usually tardiness or minor behaviors of not following the student handbook guidelines. Most students do respect the teachers and each other.

School Demographics

Kayenta Middle School is one of four schools with the Kayenta Unified School District (KUSD). Kayenta located in the northeast region of the Navajo Reservation. The rural town is 22 miles south from the Utah border. According to the National Center for Education Statistics: 93% of students are Native American Indian (Navajo), 3% White, 1% Hispanic, 1% Hawaiian/Pacific Island, and 2% two or more race. Within the four schools (ABC preschool, Kayenta Elementary, Kayenta Middle, and Monument Valley High School, there are about 1,700 students). Many of the students lived within the surrounding areas of Kayenta, which is about fifty to a sixty-mile radius; they are bussed in from these areas. The district is a feeder school for students who have completed the BIE, grant, tribal or charter k-8 schools. The surrounding schools are Oljato, Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, Rough Rock, Shonto, and Black Mesa Community School. Students from these nearby schools prefer KUSD because of the sports program, and the swimming pool, and the GATES Millennium scholarship program.

The Middle School encompasses grades 5th through 8th with an estimate of 530 students. I am one of six fifth grade teachers, and the upper ranks of sixth through 8th have approximately six teachers within each grade level. The average classroom size is 25 to 30 students per class. I teach at the Middle School as a fifth-grade teacher in a general education classroom with a combination of public education, special education, and English Language Learner students. Our district utilizes the inclusion model for individual education students to attend in the general education classroom. Special Education students are mainstream in the public education 70% of the time, based on their functional level of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP).


The objectives of my unit is to have students understand how the Diné people handled individuals who did not follow the norms within their community during early 1400 to 1700. “Peacemaking,” was a method the Dine people used to deal with individuals who did not follow the band/community norms. When the U.S. government encountered the Diné, they did not understand why the Diné people were not one entity. The military commanders did not comprehend why there were many Diné leaders. The reason being was the tribe lived in scattered bands and had their way of solving band, clan, and family issues. The mass incarceration during the mid-1800s change the Diné means of peacemaking while they were confined at the prison camp. During their encampment the prisoners were jailed or were tied to a ball and chain to punish their wrong doing. The prisoners did not understand this method of governmental system the United State enforced upon them. After the four years confinement the Diné people were allowed to return to their land which became a Reservation. The treaty of 1868 was an agreement between the U. S. government and the Diné people as one nation to agree to follow the resolutions within the treaty.  While living on the Reservation, the Diné people were mandated to use the U.S. governing system and to establish the police force implement using Western laws.

The unit will be taught for three weeks for fifty-five minutes daily. Several literatures are used to assist students with substantial understanding of how the peacemaking model was proceeded, and the events leading up the “Long Walk of 1864 to 1868,” and the aftermath are information and resources the unit will include. Excerpts from the works of literature are Navajo Nation Peacemaking, Living Traditional Justice and The Long Walk, The Forced Navajo Exile will be shared and discussed. Students will read and discuss passages while utilizing the Bloom’s Taxonomy question frames.  An interactive class timeline chart of the events before, during, and after the Long Walk will be added as the unit progresses. Each day, activities will be applied to further student understanding about “peacemaking,” the mass incarceration of the Navajo people and the restorative justice within the current Navajo justice system.

The essential questions are enduring understanding of how is the traditional Diné “peacemaking” method, along with within the Western government to help a Diné person when incarcerated?  Additional guiding questions for the lessons are: Why is the history of the Dine people mass incarceration important? How great-great-grandparents survived the ordeal, and why were they resilient? What is the history of the Navajo police? How does traditional peacemaking method and the Western Society’s governmental system function to help individuals who are incarcerated today?

Students will examine the Navajo Nation correctional system focusing on the juveniles detained in facilities and how they are monitored, educated, and counseled while in the detention center. The construction of three juvenile/youth correctional centers, public influence of why constructing them, and how Navajo Nation chairman/president and council determine the needs of such facilities are topics students will discuss.  Also, analyze public support and concerns about children in the institutes, their ideas and contribution about the system.

Along with reading and analyzing selected literature such as The Hero Twins: A Navajo-English Story of the Monster Slayers, and Monster Birds: A Navajo Folktale, Navajo Stories of the Long Walk Period, and Sing Down the Moon, students will read and sing songs in the Dine language. Songs from young Navajo Rappers, Hajii néí and Na’ hash táál by Ashkii’ Doi T’iinih (The Boy You Can’t See) and Haala deeshliil by Tribe 2. These songs describe where we come from and what we will do and will become when we complete our journey. Poems are read and interpret as healing prayers like the Hozhó (Beauty Way) and the Tlei’ bisin (Night Chant). These songs and poems help individual align their spirits back to nature and to Nihima Aszaan (Mother Earth). Additional lyrics and songs help students interpret the language.

Background Information


From the Western government perspective, they did not see any structure or representative of a government system within the Diné communities. The incoming Westerners, like the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans did not understand why the tribe as a whole did not have an organized way of living. To put it another way, before the arrival of the Americans in the early nineteenth century, the Navajo people did without a tribal-wide representative government that resembles the governments of the United States or Western European countries.2 The Dine people did have a cohesive structure, their culture, language, and land kept the people in unity. While living in scattered bands with headmen known as naat’ anniis (leaders) the community lived cohesively using their method of order. There were two naat’ aaniis within the bands. There was the Hashkeeji Naat’ aah (war leader), he knew the songs and stories of warfare. He knew to battles of Naayee’ Neezghani (Monster Slayer) and his twin brother Tó Bajish Chíní (Born-for-Water) which distinguished the war functions and peace functions in traditional Navajo stories. The Hashkeeji Naat’ aah, oversaw all war-related issues because he had extensive knowledge of war ceremonies and warfare passageways from the Twin Brothers journey narratives.3 The other naat’ aanii was the Hozhoji naat’ aah (peace leader), he had extensive knowledge of the Diné creation stories and the Hozhoji (BlessingWay Ceremony).4 In addition to the stories and ceremonies, he relied on the daily interactions with his community to maintain the people’s day-to-day activities. He used his knowledge to guide and counsel specific issues for his people to keep hózhó within the band. The two naat’ aaniis had distinct roles and expertise, and each was necessary and important to maintain hózhó (harmony) for the Navajo traditional social order.

The naat’ aaniis were leader of their band, and had the ability to influence and motivate through speeches and was very knowledgeable with songs, stories, and how to keep his community in harmony. They were well respected, and other Navajo bands knew of their leadership capability. Its common knowledge, the Navajo people knew that naat’ aaniis selected by the Diyin Diné (Holy People) and was an intermediary between the people and the Diyin Diné. According to the Dine origin story, the first naat’ anii was to correct behavior, maintain moral commands, and to enforce economic laws for the people. These commands or laws benefit the band’s order, control, and harmony of the community. Other prominent people within the group also assist the naat’ aanii, they counsel and discuss the internal matters. These leaders were hataliis (medicine men or women), hastoi (older men) and saanii (older women) addressed the band’s hunting, raiding, food gathering, the safety of the group, and other common issues discussed with the clan leaders. The main focus for the band was to survive, protect, sustain and maintain hozho (harmony).

The band population varied from a small ten to a large forty family community. Although some bands were large, they had a fundamental political body which kept their community in a harmonious state.5 The geographical area of the bands were different from one group to another. The reasons of their differences, was other tribes influenced the regions of where the bands dwelled. The Pueblos for example resided within the eastern part of the Dinetah and were more of agricultural culture, the Paiutes and Utes were enemies from the north. They have raided Navajo bands who resided in the north, and the band counter raid the northern tribes. From the south were the Apaches, who assisted in abducting women and children, then sold them to the Mexicans as slaves. To combat the abduction, the Diné raided Mexican ranches and haciendas to retrieve their women and children. In the east was the Hopi who were very hospitable in helping the smaller bands hide from the Spaniards, Mexicans, and American soldiers. The scattered bands had language, ceremonial, and leadership variations. As seen and heard today, the language and ceremonial differ from the eastern and western part of the Reservation.

Hweeldi (A Place of Suffering) - Fort Sumer, Bosque Redondo

During 1400 to 1600, the Diné people were skilled hunters and gatherers, living a nomadic way of life. The Spanish encounter during the early 1600 influence the Dine way of life becoming cultivators, planting fields of corn, weaving baskets and making clay pots. The Spanish taught the Diné how to raise domesticated livestock like horses, sheep, and cattle. They became experts in horsemanship and sheepherders.6 More Spanish ranchers began moving closer to the Navajo, and they retaliated with raids. The conflict went on for decades until 1786, Governor Juan Bautista of New Mexico territory establish a treaty with the Navajo.7 Peace honored for the remainder of the century. By early 1800, the influx of American ranchers, settlers, and prospectors caused more strife among the Navajo bands. These newcomers came to claim new lands and searched for gold. After the Mexican War of 1846 to 1848, the United States took procession of the Southwest, including the areas the tribe resided.8 Efforts to negotiate for peace agreement failed because the tribe of twelve thousand were dispersed into small bands and it was difficult to contact them to sign a single treaty. The raiding and counter raid from the Americans and the Navajo groups continued. Navajo women and children were taken and sold into slavery. Moreover, the Navajo were required to return prisoners and livestock they took in raids, whereas American of Mexican descent never repay what they have taken.9 Navajo women and children never were seen again.

The invasion of white people angered many of the Navajo bands, and they took precautions to protect themselves against these intruders and to defend their land and to live the life they have been living. The first colonel to arrive in the Southwest was Colonel Kearny. Kearny announced he came as a caretaker and not a conqueror. Instead, based on reports of continued clashes between New Mexican and Navajos, in 1846, Kearny ordered Colonel Alexander Doniphan into the Navajo country to ascertain whether the Navajos were willing to accept American rule.10 Doniphan’s meeting with the Navajo leaders was one of many council talks resulting in a treaty between the Americans and the Navajos. At Ojo Del Oso, or Shush Bitó (Bear Spring), as the Navajo knew the place, Doniphan asserted to the assembled Navajo leaders the United States claimed New Mexico by right of conquest and that they would protect all of its new citizens, including the Diné.11

Another colonel named Colonel John M. Washington proceeded to travel to Navajo land to control the Navajo. On August 30, 1849, with 178 soldiers, 123 New Mexican volunteers (slave raiders) and 60 Pueblo scouts, onto Navajo country.12 He requests the two groups meet with him the next day at Tseyi’ to formally sign a treaty. While the agreement negotiating conducted, one of the New Mexican claimed one of the Navajo had one of his horse. Washington ordered the rider to return the horse, but tension and conflict arise. Suddenly Washington ordered his soldiers to fire upon the Navajo. About six Navajo lays dead, including Narbona. He was shot multiple times and scalped by one of the soldiers. Narbona was a father-in-law to Manuelito. After the incident of Narbona, Manuelito did not trust the Americans.

During 1850, a fort was built in the heart of Navajo country, Colonel Edwin Sumner established Fort Defiance. More incidents between the colonel and Manuelito cause more conflicts. Battles at the fort killed many Navajo warriors. Brigadier General Carleton’s plan to remove the Apaches and Navajos to Bosque Redondo, a million-acre land adjacent to Fort Sumner. The two tribes would be grouped into villages and learn to live like an American, to farm, to become Christians, and educated in white ways. By September 1863, Carleton stated his plan: All captives who surrendered voluntarily would go to Bosque Redondo.13

The summer of 1863, Carleton initiated his strategy against the Navajos. He enlisted Kit Carson. Carson was a famous Indian fighter, and his message to the Navajos was to surrender and go to Bosque Redondo, or we will destroy you. Moving 221 men from Los Lunas to Fort Wingate, he added 326 men to his command.14 He fed his soldiers and horses on the Navajo fields of wheat and corn, then destroyed the rest of the crops. Afterward, everything he and his men encountered was damaged, the hogans, livestock slaughtered, peach trees slashed and burned. He targeted women and children, allowing the slave raiders to take them as payment. Many Navajos hid in the mountain and canyons. They believed Bi’éé’ Lichii’i (Red Shirt) Carson was on a war of extermination. By late fall of 1863, thousands of Navajo ragged and starving surrendered to the Forts. One of the surrendered Navajo was a leader, Delgadito. His band forcibly marched to Bosque Redondo. After talking to Carleton, Delgadito returned to hidden Navajo and informed them to surrender and move to Bosque Redondo to live in peace. Navajos will be shown no mercy if they continue to resist. Delgadito returned to the fort with 700 people. By the spring of the following year, about 3,000 Navajos had surrendered to Fort Defiance, which added prisoner count to 6,000 at Bosque Redondo. The scorch-and-burn campaign was winding down, but the attacks against the Navajos did not cease, slave raiders took advantage of tired and ragged women and children along the route to Bosque Redondo.

By November 1864, the military officials report that at least 8,600 men, women, and children had made the forced march to Bosque Redondo. But, it is possibly more than 11,000 trekked to the prison camp.  Many died along the way, slave raiders stole many, and many perish at the prison camp. The last of the Navajo leaders surrendered. Manuelito ragged and wounded arrived at Fort Wingate with his band of 500. On September 9, he and his remaining group, which had dwindled from 500 to 23 began the arduous journey to Bosque Redondo.15 Determined to make an example of this great Diné leader, Carleton sent him through the outskirts of Santa Fe, intending to parade him in front of the New Mexicans.16 The General view Manuelito was the most stubborn of all the Navajo leaders and was the most difficult to accept peace terms during his stay are the prison camp. Shortly after Manuelito’s surrender, Barboncito took his people to Bosque Redondo. The last band to surrender. The prisoners continued to suffer from the elements of nature, lack of food, disease, angry soldiers, and other unsuitable conditions.

After Hweedli

General Carleton’s plan to assimilate the Navajos failed. Carleton informed his superiors that the prison camp was succeeding, and it was not so. The Doolittle Commission, which was established in 1865 to study the conditions of native peoples in the United States, reached New Mexico in late June 1865 to investigate the Reservation and the treatment of natives by civil and military authorities.17 The written report by James Rood Doolittle observed little had been done to attend the captives’ suffering. Carleton was relieved of his command.

Of all the tribes in the United States, Navajo people were the only tribe who were allowed to return to their homeland. Prayers, songs, and 20 great Navajo leaders (Manuelito, Barboncito, Ganado, Delgadito, Armijo and others) will not sign the treaty unless the government leaders agree to let the Navajos return home and not to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. The Navajo people had one goal and a mindset to return to their land. They were determined to stay within the four sacred mountains, and they believed the earth allocated to them from the Diyan Dine’e’ (holy people). The treaty was signed on June 1, 1868. It has been 150 years since the incarceration, and the signing of the agreement and many Navajo elders still remember the ordeal. They stress to the younger generations to not forget the struggles we had to endure and how we all used our prayers, songs, and ceremony to return.

After the return to the Canyonlands and desert, the people began to unite as one, not as scattered bands. They began to see themselves as a nation. The return from Hweeldi was a pivotal change for the Navajo people. Their way of life made an impact on how they live today. The elders who did not survive the long walk and the internment camp knew the ceremonial healing songs and prayers are no longer here, and all was lost. Some clans were exterminated and no longer existed, like the ‘Iich’ah Dine’ é - Moth People, and the Tseyanatohnii - Horizontal-Water-Under-Cliffs People. The change of diet consisted of white flour, coffee, sugar, beans, and pork, which were rations given at the forts. This staple distributed at the forts until the Navajos were able to sustain themselves with their crop and livestock. They had to abide by the 1868 treaty and the 13 Articles, to become farmers, cultivating fields, and herding livestock. The Navajo government did not exist until 50 years after the “Long Walk.” The main reason the U.S. wanted a Navajo government was to obtain approval for mining leases. Oil, gas, and coal were discovered on the land. A council of leaders from the different region made up the Navajo council, and today the areas are affiliated by Chapters. By 1930s the Navajo council became a formal entity and soon after the Navajo courts formed a system.

Navajo Police

The first police force organized in 1872 on the Navajo reservation. Chief Manuelito commanded about 130 men as police officers which lasted a couple of years. Most of the policing put upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to the Law and Order Division. Between the years of 1936 to 1942, the Navajo police agency began to exist as an organized entity: A chief of police, six departments, and a central headquarter located in Fort Defiance. In 1959 to 1960, a detective, traffic division, and liquor and vice squad established. The additional departments reflected the demands of expanding a police organization and the growing Navajo population. Each specialized unit has to justify its existence by evidencing productivity, and the easiest method is through arrests and investigations or, in other words, using the crime control model.18 This centralizing and specializing units take away local involvement and reduce their input.

According to the Skoog (1996) three model of policing may exist in Native American communities: (1) the crime control model, (2) the community policing model, and (3) the political sovereignty model; however, in reality, there is generally significant overlap among them.19 The crime control model focuses on public order, and the total power of the law to safeguard general security. It also puts police priorities first along with policies and procedures, but minimal input from the community and its citizens. This method will create internal stress from the Christian members within the Native American community and external pressure to the state and federal agencies. The second is the community policing model, is what it read, community policing. A community policing approach is very applicable to the Native American communities because there is a culture connection, and gives local control to the police and citizens. The political sovereignty model is politically extreme. The usage of this model; Native American communities, have their courts, which could decide any issues occurring within their jurisdiction, and the police would form one part of an integrated criminal justice system bases on Native American values.20 The most prevalent model used by the Navajo Nation is the crime control model.

Peacemaking (Restorative Justice)

Individuals who are Diné suspected of criminal offenses can be tried in federal courts for severe crimes, in states courts for committing crimes off the Reservation, and in Navajo Nation courts for lesser and certain serious criminal offenses that incurred on the Reservation. All Navajo courts function using the Western model. The states attempted to take over the Navajo court jurisdiction and failed, the BIA Courts of Indian Offenses stepped in and established their courts on the Navajo Nation. Eventually, the Navajo Nation established its court system in 1959. The courts applied the Navajo common law as their preference, although there were oppositions. By 1992, the Peacemaker Courts formalized, and Navajo judges had been discreetly using during their court procedures for many years. In October 2001, an amendment made to the Navajo Nation Judicial Code that provided enabling legislation for the Peacemaking Division (Subchapter 10, Sec. 409-4140).21 The Peacemaking Division functions and complements with the Navajo courts. There is about 300 individual located in the 110 chapters within the communities. Individuals with disputes are referred to the peacemakers by the Navajo courts, the Navajo police, the Social Services, Indian Health Services, Behavioral Health, or self-referral. Differences may be issues of land uses, grazing right, livestock issues, domestic conflict, child custody, family violence. Some criminal offenses, like sexual assault, compensations for intentional death, have dealt with, but most cases are civil disputes. A small fee is paid to the peacemakers by the person having dispute issues. Support from the judge, court staff, Peacemaker Liaisons, and these individuals organize and implement peacemaking in their communities. Peacemaking in the Navajo courts today is the same practice the Dine have been using since the 1700s.

The law enforcement on the Reservation today has infused the Western Societies of win or lose model. Before the Judicial branch from the United States government and the 1868 treaty, the Navajo communities practiced, “Navajo custom law,” which was a journey of healing and not of punishment.22 Disputes resolved by discussing the issue which included the victim, offender, the families involved, and clan members (relatives and the community members) and the community leader. The community leaders, naat’ aaniis (headmen) settled the disputes, quarrels, and family problems and tried to correct the wrong-doers. The naat’ aaniis were respected, well versed, wise, and who facilitated the session using prayers, songs, stories, and teachings, so the person involved come to a consensus and corrects the wrong to reconcile or restore hozho (harmony) with both the victim and the offender and to prevent a recurrence. The focus was to sustain the wholeness of the person and to keep the community peaceful. The offender understands self, and a solution obtained, but when the person continues to cause trouble, the victim’s family use severe punishment which brings the ‘monster’ meaning to cause poverty, which are illness, anxiety, shame, worry, and strain. It is not a choice of solving the problem, and sometimes, this strategy used, so the offender fulfills his or her obligation. Afterward, the offender was counseled again with the naat’ aanis, families, clans, and the community band. The “peacemaking” model functioned well because all involved contributed to settle the dispute.


I created interview questions for Donavan Delmar, the itinerant supervisor at the local correction facility in Kayenta. He is the current delegated lieutenant who oversees the daily operation of the correction facility. One of the questions asked was, what does he know about the peacemaking process or restorative justice system and how is the model used within the facility? Mr. Delmar stated that the facility program utilizes the Diné concept of K’e, meaning using family and clanship to support the individuals who are detained. Prayers, songs, and mediations are additional cultural pieces the facility implements to support the detainees. The purpose of using K’e for the detainees is to bring back the connection of family, enabling individuals to find their relations within the facility (even with the staff members who are employees). Respect and rapport are thus established with the detainees and staff workers. He also stated that ceremonial practices such as the t’áchééh (traditional sweat lodge) are available for the male detainees.

The Holy People taught the Diné about the t’áchééh after their emergence into the Fourth World. The Diné had many trials and tribulations and had seen many destructions. Also, the Diné needed to be cleansed physically, mentally, spiritually, and purified for a new beginning. The ceremony in the t’áchééh is a healthy cleansing and should be treated with respect because it teaches to care for one’s body and soul, using songs and prayers, and to learn one’s roots, goals, and the foundation of life. Then, individuals will believe in themselves. The t’áchééh will reconnect the person with the Holy People so he will enlighten himself and help others. The t’áchééh ceremony is a way to help individuals who have lost their way and to reconnect to the corn pollen path and their circle of life.

Mr. Delmar added that he has attended some trainings on Restorative Justice and has knowledge of the process and has seen correlations with the Diné method of peacemaking. He would like to see the restorative method used more within the local court system but stated it will take time, because the courts, jails, and correction facilities are funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Western justice system is preferred over traditional Diné peacemaking but Mr. Delmar would like to see Restorative Justice methods return to the Navajo justice and court system. He hopes to do more when he becomes an official Supervisor. In this new capacity, he will have the authority to make decisions and implement particular corrections programs to help detainees.

Another question asked was the about juveniles who are arrested. Mr. Delmar stated, “The officer who arrests the youth usually transports the minor to the nearby juvenile facility, which is Tuba City, and they are not detained here in the correction facility.” The counselor at the site will work with the youth to correct their wrongdoing and to not punish the minor. He stated that counseling the youth is the first focus, then the schooling, culture, and language will come afterward. The goal has the minor think the wrong can be corrected and to not commit the incident again.


After understanding and learning background information about peacemaking and today’s court system on Navajo land, students will create a mock peacemaking scenario and a Western court system scenario. Students will compare and contrast the two models, then discuss, share, and select the best model, explaining why it is the preferable choice and how it benefits self. Next comes creating an Inquiry Chart to have students begin to think, discuss, and show how the Diné people settle issues within their families, clans, and community. Students will know that problems and questions resolved without the police and courts are timely and cost-effective. They will learn the process of the “peacemaking” method which is a restorative justice the court system is attempting to embed within the Navajo justice system.

Students will create a large interactive map to show where the “The Long Walk” took place and why it happened. This detailed interactive map contains stories about the areas where slave traders stole the Diné people (women and children). Moreover, it will show how some perished on their way to the prison camp. A sketch and write with a short explanation about significant events during the timeframe will be added to the map. Photos from the website, accompanied with a brief caption, will be added to the timeline. Students will create pictorials and stories of chiefs who were influential band leaders, including Narbona, Ganado Mucho, Barboncito, and Manuelito, and these too will be included in the timeline. These leaders had large bands and were well known among other groups and the U.S. military leaders. A teacher-created process grid will accumulate crucial information about each leader and how they cared for and protected their clans, communicated with the U.S. soldiers and commanders, and collaborated with other bands. The process grid will help students write various genres (comparative, contrast, reflection, summary, letters, opinion, and informative) to show understanding of given information.

At the aforementioned local correctional facility, our class will study and learn about how the facility functions, the role of police officers, and the court system. An officer with his K9 will conduct a presentation in the classroom, then will explain his duties and responsibilities as an officer and those of his K9. He will then answer questions prepared by students. He will also show his patrol vehicle and share what makes it unique. During the presentation, students will take notes and pictures, and pose additional questions to the officer. Afterward, students will create a poster about the importance of why our community needs police officers. Students will present their poster to the police department; it will be displayed in their building and then at our local school board building. In addition to the officer’s visit, students will attend a court session at our local courthouse to view the primary functions and progression of a trial. Lastly, students will reflect on their experience at the courthouse.


Students will understand what it was like to survive during the 1850s and 1860s and will document their great-great grandparents’ stories about “The Long Walk.” This portion of the unit will include interviewing grandparents (cheii doo nili), asking specific questions in order to complete a student-made book about these stories and events. Books will include a poem, a clan chart of the great-great-grandparents and grandparents, a family tree, a timeline, sketches or pictures about the events, and if possible (with home school connections), they will include photographs. I will have an example booklet of my great-great-grandmother to show my students a final product. The book they create will be their enduring understanding of what it means to survive and to be resilient when times are tough. Students will know what their elderly did for them (the students). Finally, these oral stories will not be lost because my students will have documented them into their personal family histories.

The Navajo police and court system in Kayenta hold an annual Law Day (generally in May). Police officers, prosecutors, lawyers, emergency medical technicians, members of the Volunteer Fire Department, and others display and present information to students. Participating in this year’s Law Day will be an opportunity for students to observe and interact with law enforcement staff.

Throughout the unit, students will create a portfolio of the activities and lessons they learn about “peacemaking,” Hweeldi (prison camp), police officers, K9s, and court proceedings.

Students will compare, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate how the Diné government functions today and how the “peacemaking” model, along with the Western governing system, have been developed and utilized.


Arizona College/Career and Readiness Standards – Social Studies and Language Arts Standards. Social Studies Standards has four core domains, they are the disciplinary skills and processes, civics, geography, and history.

Disciplinary Skills and Processes: 5.SP1.1 Create and use a chronological sequence of related events to compare developments that happened. 5.SP1.2 Explain how events of the past affect students’ lives and society. 5.SP1.3 Generate questions about individuals and groups who have shaped significant historical changes and continuities. 5.SP2.1 Explain why individuals and groups during the same historical period differed in their perspectives - American Indians and settlers - westward expansion. 5.SP3.5 Use information about a historical source including the author, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose to judge the extent to which the source is useful for studying a topic and evaluate the credibility of the source. 5.SP3.7 Construct and present explanations using reasoning, correct sequence, examples and details with relevant information and data. 5.SP4.2 Use evidence to develop a claim about the past.

Civics: 5.C4.1 Using primary and secondary sources to examine historical and contemporary means of changing society through laws and policies in order to address public problems. 5.C4.2 Use a range of deliberative and democratic procedures to make decisions about and act on issues and civic problems in their classrooms and schools.

Geography: 5.G1.1 Use and construct maps and graphs to represent changes in the United States. 5.G2.1 Describe how natural and human-caused changes to habitats or climate can impact our world. 5.G3.1 Use key historical events with geographic tools to analyze the causes and effects of environmental and technological events on human settlements and migration - consequences of territorial expansion on American Indians.

History: 5.H2.1 Use primary and secondary sources to summarize the causes and effects of conflicts, resolutions, and social movements throughout the historical timeframe - key conflicts can include but are not limited to cultural conflicts, political conflicts, economic conflicts, military conflicts, and conflicts related to resource use and availability 5.H4.1 Use primary and secondary sources to describe how different groups (racial, ethnic, class, gender, regional, and immigrant/migrant) shaped the United States’ multicultural society within the historical timeframe.

Arizona’s English Language Arts Standards -5th Grade: Reading Standards for Literature and Informational Text, and Writing Standards.

The literature and information text standards have similar subheading like key ideas and details, craft and structure, integration of knowledge and ideas, range of reading and level of text complexity. There are ten performance standards and about three within each subheading. A couple of performance standards are similar and other differ depending on the literature and text. The standards are coded RL and RI for each performance objective. (RI.5.1-7, 9 & 10; RL.5.1-10)

The writing standards has four subheadings: text types and purposes, production and distribution of writing, research to build and present knowledge, and range of writing. Each subheading contain three performance objectives and expected range of writing only has one. There are ten performance objectives addressing two main writing genre, and 5th grade students will need to know which genre of writing will be used when given a writing prompt. (5.W.1 to 5.W. 10)

4th-6th Diné Culture Standards: I will develop an understanding of Dine way of life (Peacemaking) C-1. I will acknowledge and value my thoughts and personality. PO.1. I will develop my cultural knowledge to build self-worth. C-2. I will apply and practice the Dine way of life through planning. PO.2. I will express appropriate kinship terms.

4th-6th Dine Character Building Standards: I will develop and apply critical thinking to establish relationship with the environment. C-2. I will maintain the sacredness of self-identity. PO.1. I will listen to and apply Dine teachings. C-3. I will have self-respect. PO.1. I will speak words that reflect my good character.


Austin, Raymond Darrel. Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law. ProQuest Information and Learning Company.  UMI Microform 325498, 2007. To share the Navajo traditional peacemaking process.

Bial, Raymond. The Long Walk the story of Navajo Captivity. Benchmark Books Marshall Cavendish, 2003. To inform others about the Navajo Long Walk, a historical event.

Bruchac, Joseph. Navajo Long Walk The Tragic Story Of A Proud People’s Forced March From Their Homeland. National Geographic Society, 2002. To inform others about the Navajo Long Walk, a historical event.

Callister, Ellen G. The Journey of the DINÉ, 2004. To inform others about the Navajo Long Walk, a historical event.

Delmar, Donavan. Interviewed Supervisor delegated lieutenant of the Kayenta Correction Facility. Kayenta, Arizona. August 2, 2019. To discuss current event within the local area.

Denetdale, Jennifer. The Long Walk the forced Navajo Exile. Infobase Publishing, 2008

Goossen, Irvy W. Dine Bizaad: Speak, Read, and Write Navajo. The Salina Bookshelf Flagstaff Arizona © 1995. To inform others about the Navajo Long Walk, a historical event.

Link, Martin A. Treaty between the United States of American and the Navajo Tribe of Indians. Native American legal materials collections title 4241. K. C. Publication © 1968. Selected Navajo leaders who signed the treaty.

McPherson, Robert. Dineji Na’nitin Navajo Traditional Teachings and History. University Press of Colorado © 2012. To teach traditional teachings and history.

Nielson, Marianne O. and Gould, Larry A. DEVELOPING THE INTERFACE BETWEEN THE NAVAJO NATION POLICE AND NAVAJO NATION PEACEMAKING1 Department of Criminal Justice, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA ISSN 1561-4263 print/ISSN 1477-271X online/03/040429–15 © 2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/15614260310001631316. Discuss the development of the Navajo police and the process of peacemaking.

Nielson, Marianne O. and Zion, James W. Navajo Nation Peace Making Living Traditional Justice. University of Arizona Press, 2005. Discuss the Navajo traditional peacemaking.

U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Tribal Crime Data Collection Activities, 2016-18. Discuss the comparison of crime within the American Indian population.

Wall, Leon and William, Morgan. Navajo-English Dictionary. Hippocrene paperback edition, 1994. Show correct pronunciation, spelling and meaning for students.

Wilkins, David. Governance within the Navajo Nation Have Democratic Traditions Taken Hold? WICAZO SA Review, Spring 2003. Discuss the Navajo Nation government.


  1. S. Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Tribal Crime Data Collection Activities, 2016-18.
  2. Wilkins, David. Governance within the Navajo Nation Have Democratic Traditions Taken Hold? WICAZO SA Review, Spring 2003
  3. Nielson, Marianne O. and Zion, James W. Navajo Nation Peace Making Living Traditional Justice. University of Arizona Press, 2005
  4. Nielson, Marianne O. and Zion, James W. Navajo Nation Peace Making Living Traditional Justice. University of Arizona Press, 2005
  5. Austin, Raymond Darrel. Navajo Courts and Navajo Common Law. ProQuest Information and Learning Company.  UMI Microform 325498, 2007.
  6. Bial, Raymond. The Long Walk the story of Navajo Captivity. Benchmark Books Marshall Cavendish, 2003. 15
  7. Ibid., 32
  8. Ibid., 33
  9. Ibid., 33
  10. Denetdale, Jennifer. The Long Walk, the Forced Navajo Exile, Chelsea House Publishers, 2008. 25
  11. Ibid., 25
  12. Ibid., 30
  13. Ibid., 40
  14. Ibid., 40
  15. Ibid., 65
  16. Ibid., 65
  17. Nielson, Marianne O. and Gould, Larry A. DEVELOPING THE INTERFACE BETWEEN THE NAVAJO NATION POLICE AND NAVAJO NATION PEACEMAKING1 Department of Criminal Justice, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA ISSN 1561-4263 print/ISSN 1477-271X online/03/040429–15 © 2003 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/15614260310001631316.
  18. Ibid., 431
  19. Ibid., 430
  20. Ibid., 430
  21. Ibid., 433
  22. Ibid., 432

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