Architecture and Planning ETDs


Yolynda Begay

Publication Date



The history and legacy of Native American relationship with the U.S. government has been marred with policies on termination, assimilation, annihilation, and displacement of Indian communities. The Dawes Act, also known as the General Allotment Act of 1887, was the starting point of enrolling tribal members for land allotments (Spruhan, 2006-2007, p. 2). The act required a population survey of individual persons residing on allotted lands. This, in turn, required Indian agents to conduct census rolls (see glossary). The purpose of the Dawes Act was to turn Indian people into Jeffersonian farmers by breaking up communal landholdings and allotting parcels to individual owners' (Deloria & Lytle, 1983, p. 104). The ongoing changes and the push to create a formal tribal government led to some of the tribal policies that are still in effect today. Most of the Indian1 policies missed a crucial step throughout Native America and that missing link is the connection to Indigenous worldview. In 1953 the Navajo Nation adopted the one-quarter blood quantum standard for tribal enrollment. The official application process was finalized in 1955. Since then, the tribal viii enrollment policy has been in place for 57 years and is in need of reevaluation by reflecting contemporary population changes and evaluating the policy from the Navajo worldview. The customary process of acknowledging the individual as Diné is in total opposition of the concept of 'ako tao Diné nishli' (I am Navajo) and obtaining the Certificate of Indian Blood for tribal enrollment. The Diné are in the midst of contemporary population changes, which is evident through evaluating quantifiable population data. As of December 2010, the Diné have 293,864 enrolled members (Navajo Office of Vital Records 2010). The data paints the picture of an increasing population but with changing population dynamics. In light of those changes, how does that reflect on the existing policy? I write this thesis from the standpoint of understanding where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. This study focuses on the human dimensions aspect of community planning for Native communities by evaluating the Navajo population dynamics from the standpoint of the current tribal enrollment policy. The current policy for the Navajo Nation is based on satisfying the one-quarter blood quantum requirement, but what about cultural considerations for Navajo identity? At the core of Diné2 identity is K'é, a network of clans that interweaves the individual to community and to relations with all things in terms of time and space. K'é is the essence of an individual and establishes one's identity at birth.



Document Type


Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Level of Degree


Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

Henkel, David

Second Committee Member

Jojola, Ted

Third Committee Member

Lee, Lloyd


Dine identity

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