Exploring the Appreciation of Using Navajo Values in Decision-making by Tribal Leaders

Exploring the Appreciation of Using Navajo Values in Decision-making by Tribal Leaders

Author: 
Sharon Begay-McCabe
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
Navajo organizational leaders manage the largest Native American government organization in the United States of America. These Navajo organizational leaders use Navajo values when making decisions that affect the lives of Navajo people and they are role models to other Native American leaders. This qualitative phenomenological study explored 10 Navajo organizational leaders’ lived experiences of the research question: How do Navajo government organizational leaders appreciate using cultural values when engaging in decisions? Three themes emerged: (a) Navajo organizational leaders appreciated the use Navajo values when making decisions by use of their knowledge of Navajo cultural values, (b) Navajo organizational leaders perceived cultural values of Navajo language and traditional custom of k’e as part of the decision-making process by their lived experiences taught by family members, (c) The Navajo organizational leaders used Navajo language and the traditional custom of k’e when making decisions for the Navajo people by their personal standards of importance. The discussion found that Navajo leaders continue self-assessment to determine leadership abilities, skills or cultural knowledge that needs to be improved. The outcome was Navajo organizational leaders over the age of 50 years have various (medium to very strong) degrees of appreciations of using Navajo values in decision-making for the Navajo people.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to my husband, Emery McCabe, and children, Ty Chavez and Dariquetta Lewis, who provided love and support, and to my grandsons, Duane Yazza and Christopher Armstrong, who are the joy of my life. A special dedication to my late daughter, Sharinda Chavez and my late parents, Ben and Maggie V. Begay, who were proud of me.
Acknowledgements: 
I was honored and blessed to have the support of Dr. Leo Mallette in the completion of this study. Thank you to my committee members, Dr. Robert Boggs and Dr. Linda Atkinson. I would like to thank my mentors, Dr. Ami Regier and Dr. Hamilton Williams, who provided immense encouragement. During this journey, I am thankful for the spiritual guidance and encouraging words to believe in myself from Sister Mary Juanita Little, O.S.F., O.L.P.H. I am grateful for the words of Navajo wisdom and knowledge from Navajo Nation Supreme Court Justice Eleanor Shirley. Finally, I would like to thank the participants who shared their experiences and made this study a success. The experiences were humbling and inspiring.