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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

4 - Right-Sizing Use Rights: Navajo Land, Bureaucracy, and Home

from Part II - Policy Barriers and Policy Needs


It is imperative that the Navajo Nation engage in meaningful land reform. This chapter highlights the challenges Dinē families face when seeking permission to use tribal trust land. Beginning with an exploration of the motivation behind the Navajo Nation’s recent effort to reform the process for obtaining a homesite lease, the chapter describes how it can be hard to find useable land even on the largest reservation. As the chapter notes, there are many reasons, including the need to find an alternative tax base now that extractive industries such as coal are leaving the reservation, that the central government should be interested in land reform. But hitting the right spot, the amount of paperwork and required fees, when it comes to formalizing use rights is hard. The Navajo Nation faces real difficulties resolving the how much control and what sort of control the central government should exercise over Dinē life, especially as it relates to the home.