Navajo Nation Peacemaking
Living Traditional Justice
Navajo peacemaking is one of the most renowned restorative justice programs in the world. Neither mediation nor alternative dispute resolution, it has been called a “horizontal system of justice” because all participants are treated as equals with the purpose of preserving ongoing relationships and restoring harmony among involved parties. In peacemaking there is no coercion, and there are no “sides.” No one is labeled the offender or the victim, the plaintiff or the defendant. This is a book about peacemaking as it exists in the Navajo Nation today, describing its origins, history, context, and contributions with an eye toward sharing knowledge between Navajo and European-based criminal justice systems. It provides practitioners with information about important aspects of peacemaking—such as structure, procedures, and outcomes—that will be useful for them as they work with the Navajo courts and the peacemakers. It also offers outsiders the first one-volume overview of this traditional form of justice. The collection comprises insights of individuals who have served within the Navajo Judicial Branch, voices that authoritatively reflect peacemaking from an insider’s point of view. It also features an article by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and includes contributions from other scholars who, with the cooperation of the Navajo Nation, have worked to bring a comparative perspective to peacemaking research. In addition, some chapters describe the personal journey through which peacemaking takes the parties in a dispute, demonstrating that its purpose is not to fulfill some abstract notion of Justice but to restore harmony so that the participants are returned to good relations. Navajo Nation Peacemaking seeks to promote both peacemaking and Navajo common law development. By establishing the foundations of the Navajo way of natural justice and offering a vision for its future, it shows that there are many lessons offered by Navajo peacemaking for those who want to approach old problems in sensible new ways.
“The volume’s editors…do an excellent job of enabling this collection of articles to clarify the concepts, meanings, and proceedings of Navajo peacemaking.” —VOMA