Leaders consider switching name to Diné Nation

Diné, which means "the people" in Navajo, is commonly what tribal members call themselves

The Associated Press
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jonathan Hale speaks on Jan. 28 during the tribal council’s winter 2016 session in Window Rock, Ariz. Hale is sponsoring legislation would change the name of the Navajo Nation to Diné Nation.

GALLUP — Navajo Nation leaders are considering changing the name of the tribal government from Navajo to Diné.

Legislation proposing the official name change went before the Navajo Nation Council’s Budget and Finance Committee and was unanimously supported, The Gallup Independent reported last week.

The legislation would change the name of the Navajo Nation to Diné Nation and would have the president and all departments, divisions, agencies and entities of the tribe use the phrase “Diné Nation” in describing the lands and people.

All resolutions of the Diné Nation government would be certified as being duly enacted in Window Rock, Arizona, Diné Nation; and all correspondence, stationary and letterhead of all divisions, agencies, and so on of the tribe would use the designation Diné Nation.

Health, Education and Human Services Committee Chairman Jonathan Hale said he decided to sponsor the bill after an elderly woman asked him why they use the term Navajo. She said the term Navajo comes from Spanish conquistadors.

Diné is the Navajo word meaning “the people” and is commonly what tribal members call themselves.

Budget and Finance Committee member Tom Chee thanked Hale for sponsoring the name change proposal.

“We are almost too apologetic to call ourselves who we are because we want to be part of the dominant society,” Chee said. “We’re even apologetic to speak own language.”

Chee said he is proud to be called Diné. He said strengthening cultural values is important.

“Every culture has their own language, their own names for their home,” he said. “Our language is sacred and we tend to forget that.”