Pacific Students Return to Navajo Nation

After a 10-year hiatus, Pacific University returned to the Navajo Nation in January 2024 as part of a winter term service learning course. Students spent two weeks at Diné College in Tsaile, Ariz, where they provided community service, such as chopping wood and shoveling snow, for elders in the Navajo community.

Students were guided to a cliff dwelling at Canyon de Celly National Monument by two Navajo guides.
They had the opportunity to hike and visit historical and cultural sites, like Canyon de Chelly National Monument, where Navajo guides led them to a view of a cliff dwelling.

Professors Brent Johnson and Mike Miller pose with Navajo code talker John Kinsel
They also spoke with elders in the Navajo community, including 107-year-old Navajo Code Talker John Kinsel Sr., who shared his experience in World War II.

Navajo Nation President Dr. Buu Nygren and Lukachukai Chapter Vice President Connette Blair met with students in Window Rock, where Dr. Nygren talked about his background and policy goals.

During their two weeks in Arizona, students also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Buu Nygren, President of the Navajo Nation, who shared his background and policy goals.

Students spent two weeks completing service projects at the Lukachukai Chapter House.

The Navajo Nation service learning trip was a long-time tradition until the retirement of its last faculty leader, Ellen Hastay. The 2024 revival was led by Professors Brent Johnson and Mike Miller, and it was guided by Portland-based Navajo Nation member Doug Uentillie. Participating students included Jacob Cardoso ‘26, Angelina Dominguez ‘26, Kailani Ibanez ‘27, Rylee Larson ‘26, Shelline Nerup ‘26, Marlo Olson ‘26, Troy Pigman 25, Diego Reyna ’26 and First Moon Venecia ‘24.

Short travel courses, like those offered each January, are one of several ways that Pacific students gain global cultural experiences as part of their undergraduate education.


Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024