Declared in 1990 as National American Indian Heritage Month, November is dedicated to the recognition of American Indians and their efforts in building this nation. It is a remembrance to the American Indians who looked past their differences and saw the benefit of combining their strengths with the American colonies in the hopes of establishing their country through peace and partnership. In honor of this month, we would like to recognize the peace-seeking nature of American Indians and their efforts in conflict resolution.
American Indians are peaceful people who understand the complexities of resolving disputes while maintaining, and nurturing, relationships simultaneously. One Lakota proverb states, “Force, no matter how concealed, begets resistance”. When settling a dispute, American Indians are conscious that they must approach it through kindness and receptivity.
Diné peacemaking is a method of dispute resolution that was established by the Navajo people in order to openly communicate about problems they were facing amongst each other and resolve them peacefully and effectively. Diné peacemaking follows a set of restorative justice guidelines and principles, similar to those taught by The Conflict Center:
1. The problematic act itself is addressed instead of the person behind that act.
2. Those involved in the peacemaking are treated equally.
3. They are not labeled as the perpetrator and victim but are evenly matched in this process of voluntary self-healing.
4. Open communication is encouraged through “respect, responsibility and good relationships” to address the consequences of bad actions and find alternate ways of behaving in similar situations.
5. Achieving a state of well-being requires healing the “mind, body and spirit” to settle the dispute. This method of talking candidly about the issue allows for individual growth and self-understanding and helps nurture a sense of empathy.
The origin of this ancient art of peacemaking goes all the way back to the journey narrative of the Navajo people. It is said that the Holy People journeyed through four different worlds, and in each of these worlds they encountered many problems. The Holy People had to resolve these problems in order to continue their journey to the following worlds. These obstacles were overcome in a variety of ways, including songs and offerings. The Holy People also used a method of talking through problems in a guided setting. This is how Diné Peacemaking is believed to have been formed.
The goal of Diné Peacemaking is to strengthen existing relationships and promote harmony through dialogue. In contrast to severing personal bonds, as conflicts tend to do more often than not, Diné peacemaking unites people through a shared experience of understanding and growth.
Diné Peacemaking is a method of conflict resolution that has been practiced by the Navajo Nation Peacemaking Program for over 20 years in the U.S. in states such as Arizona and Colorado. They currently have over 242 certified peacemakers skilled in the Diné peacemaking process. For more information on Diné peacemaking, please visit: http://www.navajocourts.org/index5.htmTweet