Navajo Prep sponsors human rights conference

Joshua Kellogg
Zoe Tryon

FARMINGTON – Navajo Preparatory School is one of three sponsors of a conference designed to highlight and educate the community on the subject of human rights.

The second annual International Conference on Education as a Human Right is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16 in the Little Theatre on the San Juan College main campus, 4601 College Blvd.

Four panels of experts will discuss how indigenous peoples, environmental issues, poverty and gender intersect with education, Navajo Prep Executive Director Betty Ojaye said.

Navajo Prep is sponsoring the event with the nonprofit organization ConnecTeach and the Dallas Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University.

The first conference was held last year at SMU in Dallas, and staff members at the Dallas Embrey Human Rights Program were interested in hosting the conference near the Navajo Nation in order to discuss the rights of indigenous people, Ojaye said.

The event is free to the public, and Ojaye hopes all members of the community, including young people, will attend.

“We don’t have instruction or topics or curriculum on the rights of people,” Ojaye said. “We think that it’s very important for young people to understand the importance of equality and what their rights are.”

The founder of the One of the Tribe nonprofit organization, Zoe Tryon, will give a keynote presentation during lunch.

One of the Tribe is an organization dedicated to protecting the rainforest and the advancement of indigenous rights in the Amazon Basin, Tryon said in an email. She will speak about her experiences working with the indigenous people in Ecuador, including people of the Cofán and Shuar nationalities.

“I hope to share stories to inspire these future leaders and change makers,” Tryon said. “To find what they are passionate about and create their own path to do what deeply moves them, as well as sustaining themselves.”

Farmington Mayor Tommy Roberts will be one of the introductory speakers. Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch, singer and domestic violence activist Radmilla Cody, and Jennifer Denetdale, an associate professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, are some of the other speakers or panel members.

Registration for the conference is free, and the registration forms can be found on the school's website at

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.