By: Christine M. Willie
Yá'át'ééh Shik'é, Shi dine'é, dóó Shik'is
This summer I attended Dr. Miranda Haskie’s (Diné) sociology class SOC 205: Qualitative Research Methods at Diné College in preparation for my upcoming Ph.D. dissertation fieldwork in Navajo Nation. The class’ ultimate goal was to produce documentaries for the 2012 Navajo Oral History Project, a collaborative effort between Diné College (DC) and Winona State University (WSU) to learn and document the living histories of WWII Navajo Code Talkers and Diné community leaders, according to Diné methods and principles of research.
In teams of 5, our class set out to listen to the stories of 4 Navajo Code Talkers: Kee Etsicitty of Chichiltah, New Mexico; Samuel Tom Holiday of Kayenta, Arizona; and Joe Vandever Sr. of Haystack, New Mexico, and Chester Nez of Chichiltah, New Mexico as well as Diné College employee and mentor Agatha Spencer of Chinle, Arizona.
I feel very fortunate to be a part of this project that aims to show respect and honor to our elders by listening to their stories and helping others to hear the knowledges that they possess. Going through this experience has reconnected me with the stories of my Father’s brother, John Willie Jr, who was one of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers. Additionally, this project has made me more aware of what research means as a Diné person. As I prepare to conduct research within Navajo Nation for my dissertation entitled “Sheep Is Life and Diné Decolonization: Dis-membering and Re-membering the Spanish and Mexican Arrivals to Navajoland,” the lessons learned from my participation with this class will carry on throughout my academic career and personal endeavors.
In addition to gifting copies of the documentaries to each family, our research will be archived at the Navajo Nation Library, the Diné College Library, and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian. Copies of the DVD are also available for purchase, with all funds from sales going to a scholarship fund at Diné College. Information about purchasing the DVDs is available from Tom Grier; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chester Nez Living History Film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAlNguQju4Q
Kee Etsicitty Living History Film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDh4v_sea3c
Samuel Tom Holiday Living History Film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jZ_Z1s6G7s
Agatha Spencer Living History Film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHR0kzRtZUw
Joe Vandever Sr. Living History Film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gf8IGiYN6JM