Navajo Technical University

Crownpoint, NM—On April 24th, 2023, Navajo Technical University celebrated the inauguration of the Doctor of Philosophy in Diné Culture and Language Sustainability program at the Wellness Center from 9:00 a.m. to Noon. This represents a pivotal moment for the Navajo Nation, higher education, and the preservation and advancement of Indigenous knowledge. It is the first accredited Ph.D. program at a Tribal College or University in the United States.

The ceremony commenced with a traditional blessing led by former NTU Diné Studies instructor Mr. Raymond Redhouse, featuring songs and prayers. Meanwhile, the NTU Board of Regents, Navajo Nation staff, NTU Administration, and many others enjoyed a traditional bowl of mutton stew and other refreshments inside the NTU Hogan.

Master of Ceremony Dr. Wesley Thomas warmly welcomed everyone, and the Director of the NTU Chinle Campus, Arlena Benallie, started the event with NTU’s traditional anthem inside the Wellness Center. Dr. Elmer J. Guy expressed his honor in having former Navajo Nation Presidents and other dignitaries present at the event, emphasizing the significance of the achievement and the unity it fosters within the NTU community. Dr. Elmer J. Guy also encouraged students to celebrate this milestone and its impact on future generations.

To mark the occasion, Dr. Wafa Hozien recited a poem and presented it to the Human Services, Education & Health Committee, Navajo Nation Tribal Council Board of Regents, and Navajo Technical University with Pendleton vests, signifying their dedication and hard work. This achievement represents a significant milestone in Navajo education, and the NTU Culinary Arts Program provided attendees with provisions for a healthy lifestyle and nourishment.

Elmer Guy, the President of Navajo Technical University, is the visionary behind the Ph.D. program. He believes that this program has the potential to positively and profoundly impact the future of the Diné people. Guy explains, “This is one way we demonstrate our sovereignty.” In 2000, he laid the foundation for the Ph.D. program by introducing a Navajo Culture course for all NTU graduates. Guy expressed his gratitude to the faculty at NTU, stating that the Diné Studies program collaborated with Indiana University and Swarthmore College. “They all contributed in a good way. I am excited about the arrival of these new Ph.D. students and am looking forward to the latest research and knowledge they will bring,” Dr. Elmer J. Guy stated.

“Native language is a superpower. With this new program, we can continue to educate our students that our culture and languages are important,” said Naomi Miguel, Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Advancing Education Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.

“The launch of this program is a significant achievement, not just for the Diné community, but for all indigenous peoples worldwide who are working to preserve their cultural heritage and pass it on to future generations,” explains Dr. Wafa Hozien, Dean of Diné and Graduate Studies.

The IT department broadcasted the event live on NTU’s YouTube channel with Mr. Dody Begay, KCZY 107.3 FM, and Cuyler Frank and his broadcast operations. NTU would also like to thank the Department of Indian Affairs, Dr. Theodore Fernald from Swarthmore College in Philadelphia, PA, Former Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, and many others who continue to support Navajo Technical University and our commitment to advancing Indigenous education.

For more information, contact:
Natalie R. Desiderio
Administrative Assistant
Graduate Studies & Undergraduate Diné Studies
P: (505) 387-7520