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Jennifer Nez Denetdale

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Office: Humanities 430

Associate Professor of American Studies

Education: PhD, Northern Arizona University


Research Interest

Critical Indigenous Studies, Indigenous Feminisms and Gender Studies, Native Oral History, Southwest Studies

As the first-ever Diné/Navajo to earn a Ph.D. in history, Dr. Jennifer Nez Denetdale is a strong advocate for Native peoples and strives to foster academic excellence in the next generation of students interested in Indigenous Studies. Denetdale is an Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico and teaches courses in Critical Indigenous Studies, Indigenous gender and sexuality, Indigenous feminisms and gender, and Navajo Studies. Her book, Reclaiming Diné History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2007 and has received positive reviews. Her book for young adults, The Long Walk: The Forced Exile of the Navajo, was published by Chelsea House in 2007. Professor Denetdale is the author of numerous essays, articles, and book chapters. She has expertise as a consultant for Native museum exhibits and was an expert witness on behalf of the Navajo Nation. She is the director of UNM's Institute for American Indian Research (IfAIR) and the chair of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission. As a commissioner on the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, she has advocated for Navajo women and the LGBTQI community. She has been recognized for her scholarship and service to her nation and community with several awards, including the Rainbow Naatsiilid True Colors for her support and advocacy on behalf of the Navajo LGBTQI and the UNM Faculty of Color Award for her teaching, research and service in the academy. In 2013, she was awarded the UNM Sarah Brown Belle award for service to her community. In the spring of 2015, she was recognized for Excellence in Diné Studies by the Navajo Studies Conference, Inc. She is also very proud to have been selected to deliver the inaugural address before the 23rd Navajo Nation Council upon their inauguration in January 2015. In 2017, she was awarded the UNM Presidential Award of Distinction.