1. Describe the reservation in terms of geography, People, language and government.
The Navajo Nation is 25,000 square miles, divided into five agencies which extends into the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, with a total Navajo population of 219,000. Navajo language is still the primary language in the extended family. Navajo Nation operates under a three branch government of Executive, Judicial and Legislative with 101 council delegate members, Speaker of the House, President, and Vice President, and local community chapter officials.
2. Describe the maJor health issues addressed by the rehabilitation and medical services on the reservation.
Indian Health Services is the primary medical service provider that coordinates with the Navajo Nation to address major health issues on the reservation in conjunction with the Division of Health Services. Navajo Nation Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) coordinates with agencies in delivery of rehabilitation services.
3. Describe the employment/economy education system and the cultural kinship systems in place.
The unemployment rate is 30+% due to poor economy. The primary employment agencies are Navajo Nation, Indian Health Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and schools. In addition, employment is available from private companies such as communications, utilities, lumber mill, the tribal college, and small businesses.
The education system consists of Headstart1 public education, Bureau of Indian Affairsl and contracts which are governed by the local school board. There are also mission schools. One tribal college branches into the five agencies. Navajos also enroll in university branch colleges in border town areas of the reservation.
The kinship/clan system is still practiced by the Navajo people. Clans are recorded on marriage licenses by the Navajo Nation courts to prevent intermarriage within the same clan. The belief is that marriage of the same clan brings disharmony to the family with the birth of a disabled child. Kinship/clanship is used for greetings and identification of your relationship to a person.
4. How is rehabilitation viewed by the community, culture, consumers, hmily and social structure?
The Navajo Nation, in general, is still learning about rehabilitation as it relates to culture, family and the social structure. As in most cultures, Navajos take care of their own and some believe it brings shame to the family to receive outside assistance, but that is changing.
5. How is rehabilitation difhrent today from the practices five years ago? Twenty years ago?
Rehabilitation is one of the major service providers on the reservation as it was twenty years ago and even five years ago. The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (OSERS) is responsible for the establishment and growth of rehabilitation through changes and awareness.
6. What makes rehabilitation unique or exemplary on your reservation?
The Navajo Nation was the first Indian vocational rehabilitation agency to operate and provide vocational rehabilitation services to its people with disabilities and is the leader that changed legislation to establish Section 130 Projects. It operates within three vocational rehabilitation state agencies and three Rehabilitation Services Administration regions.
7. What are the characteristics of persons with disabilities on your reservation?
Characteristics of persons with disabilities on The Navajo Nation are unique with each individual. Due to a lack of services and accessibility, there is frustration and hopelessness in some cases. There are some who have taken the initiative to serve on committees to address disability issues, but input from the disability population is still limited because the welfare system and politics have made the Navajo people more dependent than independent. More are inclined to access services and believe employment or independence are impossible.
8. What do you see as the needs and wants of individuals with disabilities on the reservations? What are the immediate concerns of persons with disabilities on your reservation?
Individuals with disabilities on the reservation need and want accessible services and easy access such as home based services. Other needs and wants include accessible housing with modern conveniences, assistive devices? and support systems. There need to be more individuals responsible in their rehabilitation, independent living, and in general.
9. What is the future of rehabilitation on your reservation andl from your perspective, for the Native American Nations?
The future of rehabilitation on The Navajo Nation depends on permanent funding with Rehabilitation Services Administration and program expansion which includes additional support staff, economic development for training and employmentt and expansion of technology.
Native American Nations need to support each other and the growth of the Consortia. It will be the vehicle towards (1) change in legislation, (2) issues and coordination with state agencies to be more accountable and responsible for services to Native Americans with disabilities, and (3) more qualified Native American professionals in the rehabilitation system.
10. what role does technology play in the lives of individuals with disabilities on your reservation?
Technology is limited on The Navajo Nations. Funding through New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation allows us to establish a loan bank for assistive devices on a small scale. We are exploring ways to apply for a technology grant to access more service in this area.
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