Navajo Studies Conference to be held in Shiprock, N.M.

SHIPROCK, N.M. - In collaboration with Diné College, Navajo Studies Conference, Inc. will be hosting the 18th Navajo Studies Conference at the Diné College-Shiprock campus on March 12-14. The conference schedule features an array of seminars, discussions, and presentations about Navajo life in areas of science, government, education, language, history, and culture. On behalf of Diné College, President Ferlin Clark has been very supportive and agreed to host both the 17th and 18th Navajo Studies Conferences. He welcomed the discussion of ideas about Navajo studies occurring within the sacred homeland of the Diné.

"Diné College, a premiere institution for Navajo culture, language, and philosophy, has been a key partner in our endeavor to promote Diné culture and history," stated Lester Tsosie, President of Navajo Studies Conference Board of Directors. "The college offers a forum for exchange of ideas and reflection upon critical review of Navajo studies."

Conference attendees can expect many presentations on familiar topics given in the past with one big difference this year. Local organizers Herbert Benally and Dr. Wesley Thomas are approaching the conference from a community perspective and have chosen the theme of "Re-defining Navajo Values and Practices for a Sustainable Future."

"With today's challenging, unpredictable global market, people are yearning to learn about sustainable economic initiatives," Tsosie said. "This conference will bring together people from a variety of backgrounds, community leaders, educators, students of Navajo studies, and young adults and elders who want to talk about how Navajos fit in this world," he added.

There will be many opportunities for participants to engage in discussions on a variety of topics in Navajo studies during the three-day conference. For example, the Navajo public can participate in a forum called "A summit on Navajo sustainability." There will also be a plenary session entitled, "The Past and Future of the Diné and Sustainability."

Prominent leaders expected at the conference include Navajo Nation Council Delegate and former New Mexico Senator Leonard Tsosie; Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence Morgan; Division of Hydrologic Sciences Desert Research Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Karletta Chief; former Navajo Supreme Court Justice Robert Yazzie, and current Navajo Supreme Court Justice Herb Yazzie; and renowned student inventor Garrett Yazzie.

Navajo scholars will present interesting research on Navajo Studies, among them Dr. Lloyd Lee, Dr. Miranda Haskie, and Dr. Wesley Thomas. A sense of pageantry will grace the conference as well with participation by Yolanda Charley, current reigning Miss Navajo 2008-2009 and Jonathea Tso, Miss Navajo 2007-2008, who each will have a featured role throughout the conference by facilitating the opening ceremony and banquet.

At the banquet on Friday evening, Dr. Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet, President of Antioch University Seattle and the first Native American woman to ascend to the presidency of an accredited university outside the tribal college system, will be the keynote speaker. Navajo Studies Conference Board of Directors will also recognize individuals and organizations who have contributed to the betterment of the Navajo people and who have promoted Diné values. James Bilagody is slated to provide entertainment.

There will also be sessions organized around Diné poetry and art, which was coordinated by local businesswoman Gloria Emerson. Participants will also have a chance to go on day-long tours of Shiprock, Mt. Hesperus, or Navajo Agricultural Products, Inc.

Navajo Studies Conference Board of Directors, in partnership with Diné College, is pleased with the increased attendance at past conferences. They have worked to create a conference centered on Diné values and one that encourages local community participation. The general public is strongly encouraged to attend this important conference.

For more information, visit www.navajostudies.org.

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