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WORKSHOP: Incorporating Indigenous Conflict Prevention, Healing, and Harmony Models into Higher Education

IPI will be at the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice conference in June.  This workshop will address the following objectives:

  1. Exposure to challenges in the overarching curriculum used to train practitioners.
  2. Ways to develop courses and trainings to expose others to actual practices, and the core values behind them, that have held communities together for thousands of years.
  3. Understanding Navajo and other tribal approaches to training for traditional peacemaking training in legal education, beginning to understand the concept of “Life Comes from It” as a traditional dispute resolution model.
  4. Successful model in New Mexico and Oregon for postgraduate peacemaking training.


As a backdrop, research on the field of conflict intervention shows a shortage of indigenous conflict prevention, healing, and harmony models courses within current graduate peace and conflict curriculum worldwide.  Of those courses that do anything to highlight such indigenous practices, the material is usually presented in a format that is not very helpful. For example, the proverbial “cross cultural conflict resolution” course typically offers a buffet style of presentation that usually – not always – substitutes quantity for quality.  A typical semester course might run through maybe 25 cultural practices thereby creating a sense of breadth of exposure but little depth of understanding. 

Additionally, as part of the worldwide context, Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples declares that “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matter which would affect their right, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision making institutions.”  Thus, they and others are called to shift to a different mode of thinking, from adversarial to collaborative and restorative, to re-educate the educated, and to look inside for answers more than to the outside.

As an alternative to the shotgun approach in education about indigenous justice systems, a model utilized in a tribal context will show how in-depth understanding of one tribal model can be effective. An addition example, from a successful law school curriculum employed in two different law schools, will provide and proof that there can be a better way within existing non-tribal contexts as well.

Workshop presenters are Hon. Robert Yazzie, Hon. Cheryl Demmert Fairbanks, and Dr. Brian Polkinghorn.