University of New Mexico Associate Professor of American Studies Jennifer Nez Denetdale is filling the position on the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission that requires an “extensive background in education,” according to the Commission.
Her appointment was confirmed on Monday, Aug. 1, at the Naabik’iyati’ Committee of the Navajo Nation Council was unanimous. She was recommended by the Navajo Nation Council Speaker Johnny Naize to the Naabik’iyati’ Committee.
Denetdale joins Commissioner Chairperson Duane H. Yazzie, Commissioner Vice-Chairperson Clarence Chee, Commissioner Steve Darden, and Commissioner Irving Gleason; and direct seven staff members for the Commission. Denetdale will serve the remainder of the term of the vacated position from the time of appointment to July 2012.
During her term, Denetdale will guide staff at the Commission involving areas of civil and human rights, including but not limited to, employment, housing, cultural and intellectual property, sacred sites, race discrimination, advising accordingly as the educational representative to the Commission.
As the first-ever Diné/Navajo to earn a Ph.D. in history, Denetdale is a strong advocate for Native peoples and strives to foster academic excellence in the next generation of students interested in Native Studies. Denetdale specializes in Navajo history and culture; Native American women, gender, and feminisms; and Indigenous nations, colonialism and decolonization.
Her book, Reclaiming Diné History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2007, received positive reviews. Her book for young adults, The Long Walk: The Forced Exile of the Navajo, was published by Chelsea House in 2007. Denetdale recently published the article, “Securing the Navajo National Boundaries: War, Patriotism, Tradition, and the Diné Marriage Act of 2005,” for a special issue on Native Feminisms in Wicazo Sa Review. She was the co-editor of the special issue. Last summer she was guest curator for the exhibit, “Hastiin Ch’ilhajíní dóó Diné bi naat’áanii Bahane’: Chief Manuelito & Navajo Leaders,” at the Navajo Nation Museum. Her current research project is a history of Navajo women.
The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission is an authorized entity of the Navajo Nation legislative branch to advocate for Navajo human rights and to address discriminatory acts against Navajo citizens.
The Commission’s office is located in St. Michaels, where Commissioners meet regularly every first Friday of each month. Commissioner meetings are open to the public.
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