Vision Statement: Through the principles and values of Sa’ah Naaghai Bik’eh Hozhoon, Dine Policy Institute will become the premiere quality research organization for facilitating, analyzing issues, an educating Bil’ashdlaii, in a way that ensures that beeheezaani are developed to protect the sovereignty and cultural integrity of the Dine.
Mission Statement: Dine Policy institute’s mission is to articulate, analyze, and apply the Dine Bi Beehaz’aannii to issues impacting the Navajo people by educating, collaborating and serving as a resource for policy and research.
Since 2011, Diné Policy Institute has researched the Navajo Nation Food System through primary research, meetings with Diné knowledge holders, community based data collection, and literature and historical reviews under the Diné Food Sovereignty Initiative. The purpose of this research was to better understand the systemic issues that have shaped the current Diné Food System and its negative health, community, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts, and to identify strategies and recommendations for creating positive change for the Diné people.
Challenges and Barriers to Growing: When posed with the question, “What challenges do you face with growing in this area?” an overwhelmingly common response had to do with limited water resources and poor water management. Growers pointed to the drought facing their communities making water even scarcer than usual. This they attribute to climate change, seeing a shift and decline in the monsoons as well as overly windy conditions not experienced in the past. Some also noted a short growing season as a result of the shifts in climate. On the other hand, growers also indicated inefficient use of the water that is present within the community. They cited poor community design related to water use, and noted that much of the available water does not get to crops, and is wasted. Growers pointed out that there is a general lack of efficient water harvesting, and that better methods for collecting water should be sought. They also noted inefficiency in the use of reservoirs for irrigation. This is only exacerbated by the situation in which fish are prioritized in reservoirs above the needs of farmers by Navajo Nation Fish and Wildlife services when it comes to accessing reservoir water. Finally, the issue of contaminated water was also raised by some growers as a challenge.