The family structure is important to the society, community and the whole Navajo Nation.
The Navajo family is organized around a clan system which can be described as, "a group of relatives who share an identity, hold property in common and trace their descent from a common ancestor" (Luana, 1996). The clan can include many extended families.
This clan structure is a strong support system that is based on the concept of interdependence. Through interdependence all family members have the responsibility to contribute to the well-being of the family.
Achieving this well-being includes work, celebrations, rituals and family meal time.
Spirituality gives purpose and meaning to the Navajo's life.
Navajo spirituality is focused on harmony and balance with themselves and the universe.
This condition of being in harmony with all things living is the single most important ideal of their spirituality. (Natani & Natani, 2002).
All things living- people, plants, animals, mountains and earth are relatives. This inter-relatedness gives the Navajo Nation purpose in life.
The purpose is to maintain balance between the individual and the universe to live in harmony with all things living
The Navajo Nation government was formed in 1868.
The Navajo Nation government has evolved into the largest and most sophisticated form of American Indian government (Wilkins, 2002).
The government is composed of three branches which are the executive, legislative and judicial.
The Navajo Nation's right to self-govern is sacred and important to their daily life.
Their right to self-govern gives them the ability to help maintain their traditional ways of life.
image from google.com
Official seal of Navajo Nation
Navajo Indian Tribe Challenges
The Navajo Nation struggles with health problems.
Navajo Indian's have a life expectancy that is 5.5 years less than the U.S. all races population (Indian Health Service, 2018).
Within the Navajo Nation, one of three are now diabetic or pre-diabetic.
The suicide rate among Navajos is 30% higher than the national average (Indian Health Service, 2018). Alcoholism is another sever problem.
1 out of two Navajo children are overweight or obese (COPE, 2016).
Inadequate health care systems, high rates of poverty and several other factors such as the Navajo Nation being classified as a food desert are contributing to these major health problems.
Schools on the reservation are disproportionately underachieving compared to other schools.
These schools have the highest rate of drop out.
Three out of ten students drop out of school before graduating.
Teachers are especially difficult to retain at reservation schools, which creates problems with regularity in the classroom and many administrative difficulties as well.
The Navajo Nation suffers from high rates of unemployment.
Unemployment rate within the reservation is 42% (Partners in Health, 2018).
Unemployment leads to increasing percentage of poverty levels.
42.90% of individuals and 40.10% of families are below the poverty level (Partners in Health, 2018).
Isolation from rest of country due to reservation system.
Poor land and limited water resources create severe economic problems,
Prejudice limited ability of Navajo Nation members to integrate with nation as a whole.
Government is separate from states where reservations are located and have limited ability to raise funds leading to poor educational system, poor roads and other infrastructure.
Large land area and and small population means many people are far from medical services.
Currently has poor and expensive internet services.
Community OutReach and Patient Empowerment (COPE)
COPE works with the Navajo Nation Community Health Representative Outreach Program to improve the lives of those living with diseases in Navajo.
COPE works closely with health care teams and community supporters to develop programs that address structural barriers to good health, respond to the challenge of disease and bridge gaps found in the health care system (COPE,2018).
COPE programs focus on community outreach, maternal and child health, healthy food and water, cancer care and youth leadership to eliminate health disparities and improve the wellbeing of the Navajo.
For more information on the specific programs use the link to their website, https://www.copeprogram.org/
National Indian Youth Leadership Project (NIYLP)
NIYLP is an non-profit organization leader in substance abuse prevention and positive youth development for Navajo youth.
NIYLP helps to promote the potential of Native youth to be part of a more positive world through adventure-based learning and service to family, community, and nature. (projectventure.org)
Project Venture is one of the programs through NIYLP. It is a Positive Youth Development approach, with a culturally-based group development process and focuses on positive behaviors and healthy lifestyles (projectventure.org)
For more information on Project Venture and other programs through NIYLP use the link to their website, https://projectventure.org/