School of Diné Studies and Education

Meet Our Faculty

Photo of Barsine Barney Benally

Barsine Barney Benally

M.Ed., Arizona State University

Barsine Barney Benally (Diné) is an instructor of Early Childhood Education with the Center for Diné Teacher Education Program at Diné College. Two thousand-twelve will embark her first year at Diné College as a full time faculty member. She has earned her Associates of Arts Degree in Elementary Education and Navajo Language with Diné College. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education with emphasis on Multi-lingual and Multicultural Elementary Education with Arizona State University. She received her Masters of Education Degree in Educational Leadership with Doane College and is currently working on her Graduates Degree in Educational Leadership with Arizona State University.

She has worked eight years as a K-8th instructor for Tsehootsooi Diné Bi’olta’, an immersion school in Fort Defiance, Arizona. Professional endeavors include serving on the Yale National Teacher Initiative, Certified Teacher K-8th and Navajo Bilingually Endorsed K-12th.

Photo of Charlton Long

Charlton Long

M.Ed., Arizona State University

Charlton Long is originally from Forest Lake—Black Mesa area. He is Yeii’í Diné, born for Haltsoíí Tábąąhii, Lók’aa’ Diné are his maternal grandparents and Naakaii Diné are his paternal grandparents. Mr. Long is an Alumni of Diné College. He received his Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. He has his teaching licenses for both Arizona and New Mexico States. He is endorsed in Gifted and Talented, Reading, TESOL, and ESL. He also has his coaching license for both Arizona and New Mexico.

His work experiences include working with Kg through 12th BIE, charter, alternative and public schools on and off the Navajo reservation for over ten years. He also taught in multi-age classrooms. He is currently working with Center for Diné Teacher Education as education faculty. He teaches for the AA in education and BA in Elementary program.

He is a veteran who was stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC and Ft. Benning, Ga. He enjoys teaching and learning. He looks forward to working with higher learning at Diné College where he started his educational journey.

Photo of Thomas Benally

Thomas Benally

M.A., Doane College

My name is Thomas P. Benally, Kin Lichíi’nii, Bit’ahnii báshíshchíín, Kin Yaa’áanii dashicheii dóó Naakaii Dine’é dashinálí. Tsé Nitsaa Deez’áhídéé’ naashá. I worked at Rock Point Community School for twenty-eight years. I started out as a Reading Tutor back in the 1970’s. After that, I held various positions, to name a few: Navajo Literacy Teacher, Navajo Language Evaluator/Specialist, Navajo Language and Culture Specialist, Elementary Principal, and 4th Grade Navajo Language Teacher.

Currently, I am a Center for Diné Teacher Education faculty member. I teach education courses for both the A.A. and B.A. programs. I have worked here at Diné College for thirteen years now. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College, in Crete, Nebraska. I haven been in education for over forty-three years.

Photo of Amelia Black

Amelia Black

M.Ed., Arizona State University

Professor Amelia I. Black has taught Early Childhood and Elementary Education courses at Diné College since the inception of the AA Early Childhood Education program and the change to four-year status for Diné College. Throughout her time at Diné College, she's taught all sequences of Early Childhood Education, Human Development, Special Education, Introduction and Theory courses. In addition to her teaching responsibilities at Diné College, Professor Black serves on the First Things First Navajo Nation Regional Board as an “at large member” and has held the position as Chair for Center for Dine Teacher Education in previous years. She has been a member of the College wide Academic Standards and the Assessment Committee. Outside of Diné College, Professor Black holds an Arizona Department of Education Certificate with endorsements in English as a Second Language, Special Education and Early Childhood Education. She has served as a teacher in the pre-kindergarten to 8th grade environments for over 10 years.

Photo of Blackhorse Mitchell

Blackhorse Mitchell


Billi’ lizhinii [Blackhorse Mitchell] was born and raised on Palmer Mesa a place known by Diné People as [Tse Dildo’ii] above Salt Creek Canyon, New Mexico which is near the Colorado state line in  Northern New  Mexico. He is a [Yei’ii Dine’I] Tachii’nii born for Naakaii Dine’I. His maternal Grandfather is [Hooghan Lani] and his paternal Grandfathers are [Ashiihi] clans. He attended [Ignacio] Boarding School k-1/k-11 in Ignacio High School, Ignacio, Colorado. He received his academic degree from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1964. Returned to IAIA and received his FA in Literary Writing in 1966 then continued to attain his Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 1978 from University of New Mexico College of Education. After teaching [14] year in Elementary school, middle school, he returned to UNM College of Education and received his Master’s of Art in Secondary School minored in Classical Language in the area of Dine Language. To date he has worked in  the educational field for 30 years and occasionally worked as Adjunct faculty at Dine College, Shiprock, New Mexico as well as other Colleges and Universities.

Photo of Jeannie Lewis

Jeannie M. Lewis, M.Ed

Northern Arizona University

Jeannie Lewis is Ashiihi and born for Haltsooi Dine’e. Her maternal grandparents clan is Bit’ahnii and paternal grandparents clan is Tsi’naajinii. She was raised and resides in Tsech’izhi, Arizona.
Ms. Lewis has taught college level courses at other colleges and now currently teaches Educational courses for the Center for Diné Teacher Education. She has been in the educational field for a total of 26 years and a Principal for 13 years at various Grant Community Schools on the reservation.
Her educational background includes receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Ms. Lewis also holds a teaching and administrative certification with Arizona Department of Education. She enjoys teaching at all grade levels and is very compassionate about the Navajo Language and Culture. She has been involved in the implementation of Navajo Immersion Programs from Kindergarten to 6th grades.

Photo of Herman Cody

Herman Cody

E.d.D., Arizona State University
(928) 724-6703

Dr. Herman Cody was born and raised in the Leupp area of the Navajo Nation at a place called Grand Falls.  He is Tsi’naajinii born for Naakai Dine’é.  His maternal grandfather is Kinyaa’áanii with paternal grandfather as Tódích’íi’nii.  He received his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Master’s in Bilingual/Multicultural Education from Northern Arizona University, and his doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision from Arizona State University.  He is a Vietnam-era veteran having served in Southeast Asia.  Dr. Cody brings extensive classroom teaching experience to CDTE and is an avid advocate for Diné language revitalization. 


Wilson Aronilth Jr., Faculty

Honorary Degree, Dine College

The Four Pillars of Dine Philosophy

  1. Tradition:
    Create an environment of trust to facilitate expression. Show attitude, behavior, personality, interest views and goals relating to four base clans.

    Show a willingness to participate and cooperate in a certain traditional process – develop a sense of belonging through Ké, express self-identity through Diné Language, prayers, songs, values, belief, philosophy and custom.
  2. Skills:
    Well cultivated, critical thinkers, good self-direction, good communication and problem solving abilities. Ability to come to a well reasoned conclusion and solution. Have a job, family and beautiful home.
  3. Knowledge:
    Show integrity, positive thinking, and good leadership while expressing truth, peace and harmony.

    Have a mission, vision, principle, values, beliefs, and to practice and live it every day.
  4. Leadership:
    Develop a clear mission, vision, and SNBH philosophy. As a result, this leads to one’s survival of a solid foundation creates a good stability to live this life.

    Diné leadership involves integrity, trustworthiness and the commitment to follow good principles and ethics.


Roger P. Benally., Faculty

M.Ed, Doane College
Educational Leadership

Roger P. Benally’s clans are, Kin {ich7i’nii nil9, Bit’ahnii y1shch77n, Kin Yaa’1anii dabicheii d00 Naakaii Dine’4 dabin1l7. He is originally from Rock Point, Arizona. He was employed by Rock Point Community School for 34 years. He held different positions, such as being the Navajo Language and Culture Teacher, Navajo Science Teacher, Navajo Curriculum Specialist, and being a Navajo Language and Culture Director. He started his employment with Dine College in Center for Dine Studies in fall of 2012. Currently he teaches NAV 101, NAV 102, NAV 201, NAV 202, NAV 211 and NAV 212. He received his BA in Elementary Education from Prescott College. He earned his M.A. degree in Leadership and Curriculum Instructions from Doane College, Nebraska.


Avery Denny, Faculty

Hataahlii, Diné Medicine Man's Association Inc.

Clans are T0 dík=zh7 nis[9, T0tsohnnii Báshíshchíín, Ta’neeszahnii dashicheii, Ts4n7jíkiní dashin1l7. Hooshdódiitóódéé’ naashá. I reside in Whippoorwill, Arizona as a member of the Navajo Nation.

Navajo Traditional Educational background:
Hataa[ii, a Singer of the Blessing way/ Hózhóój7, Protection way/ Naayée’eejí, and T[’44j7 Hat11l, The Night Chant. A Hataa[ii holds the highest standard in the community practicing the Navajo Traditional Healing Ceremonies. These ceremonies last two, five and nine nights. These ceremonies are known as a Hat11l or Nahaghá. This skill as a healer is like being physician.

Teaching for over 24 years in the area of Diné Culture and Oral History. Listed below are courses that I teach at Diné College:

  1. Foundation of Navajo Culture
  2. Navajo Oral History
  3. Navajo Philosophy
  4. Navajo Holistic Healing
  5. Navajo Herbology
  6. Dine Educational Philosophy (DEP)
  7. Navajo Spirituality
  8. Navajo Early Child and Adolescent Development


Martha Jackson, Faculty

M.A., University of Arizona


Thomas Littleben Jr., Faculty

B.S., Northern Arizona University


Gene Vecenti, Faculty

M.Ed, Northern Arizona University

Vecenti de Gene Ortizio Juanajillo Alitizar – comes from the community of Lukachukai. AZ. Has been employed at Navajo Community College, and now Diné College for 34 total years.

Became a Center for Diné Studies Faculty in 1995 and have taught as an Adjunct Faculty in English, Math and Physical Education throughout the years. Academic education includes: Master of Education - Bilingual Multicultural Education – Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff AZ; Bachelor of Arts – Education – Fort Lewis College, Durango CO; Associate of Arts – Diné Studies, Bi-Cultural Specialist, Navajo Language, and Liberal Arts – Diné College, Tsaile AZ.

Credentialed to teach Navajo (Diné) Culture, Language, History, Nation’s Government, Traditional Knowledge, Applied Linguistics, Linguistics, Language Methodology, Language Acquisition, Morphology, Phonology, Syntax, Semantics/Pragmatics, and Discourse. Worked and provided assistance to the Navajo Community College, and Diné College to at-least 5 accreditation processes. Completed the Project Siih Hasin for the 2008 Higher Learning Commission Accreditation.

Provided Leadership and membership to the Student Learning Academic Assessment for more than 20 years. Been in the membership and leadership role for the Academic Standing Committee: Academic Standards, Curriculum, Distance Education, and the Arizona Languages Articulation Task Force (AzLATF).



Martha Austin-Garrison, Faculty

M.Ed, Arizona State University

Áshiihí salt clan, Father’s clan is Tódích’íi’nii bitterwater, Maternal grandfather’s clan is Tábaahí edgewater, Paternal grandfather’s clan is Bit’ahnii Lók’aa’ dine’é Folded arms- Reed clans. Originally from Tséyi’ Canyon near Kayenta, AZ and Navajo Mountain community. Graduated from James A. Garfield, Seattle, WA. Has a BA degree in Elementary Education from University of Arizona and a M.Ed., from Arizona State University. Has taught in the Elementary school on the Navajo Nation. Taught Math and English in Junior High School including Freshmen classes at Rough Rock School. Had teaching experience with Dine College/ASU former Center for Diné Teacher Education. A sheep-herder, weaver and Navajo language writer. Chair person for School of Dine Studies and Education.
Is fluent in both Navajo and English. Assist with communicating and translating in the Navajo language, especially in the medical field. Teaching Navajo language and Navajo Indian Studies courses. Developed some NAV and NIS courses for AA and BA proposed degree in Dine Studies. Has many years of working with Northwestern University on Navajo Ethno-Medical Encyclopedia, interviewing Navajo traditional medicine people, transcribing recorded tapes and writing the medical encyclopedia in Navajo language. Teaching for 38 plus years for Dine College, Center for Diné Studies and Education.



Dr. Herbert Benally, Faculty

Ph.D, California Institute of Integral Studies

Herbert John Benally, PhD is a faculty in the School of Dine Studies and Education at Dine College, Shiprock Campus where he teaches Navajo Culture, Oral Tradition, Philosophy, Navajo History, Navajo Nation Government, Contemporary Indian Affairs, Native North America. He holds a PhD. in Traditional Knowledge/ Philosophy from California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education with emphasis on Third World Development and B.A. in Health Education/Biological Science from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. Benally have studies and conducts research on Navajo Blessing Way, creation stories, history, philosophy and epistemology. His work in Navajo epistemology H0zh=-go Na’adá is now a Research method use in number research, assessment, evaluation in health and environment. Dr. Benally’s has presented at numerous conferences in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Spain, and Japan. He works with numerous communities, schools, social services, rehabilitation centers, Navajo nation judicial system and health-related program and environment. His writing on Navajo philosophy and epistemology are published in some journals and textbooks.


Window Rock

Don Denetdeal, Faculty

B.S., Northern Arizona University

Donald Denetdeal is a native from Klagetoh, Arizona. He has been teaching for the past 29 plus years for Navajo Community College/Diné College. He teaches most of the Navajo Indian Studies (NIS) courses (Navajo Cultural Arts Philosophy, Navajo Silversmithing I and II, Foundations of Navajo Culture, Navajo Oral History, Introduction to Navajo Herbology, Navajo History to Present, Navajo Oral Tradition and Style, Navajo Holistic Healing, Contemporary Indian Affairs and Tribal Government, Navajo Nation Government, Diné Education Philosophy I and Navajo Philosophy). He was raised with Navajo Language as primary language and Navajo cultural ways of life. He received A.A. Degree at Eastern Arizona College and Received B.S. Degree at Northern Arizona University. He has been working in Navajo Education arena for over 40 years.


Dr. Christine M. Ami, Faculty

Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Navajo Cultural Arts Program Grant Manager

Yá’át’ééh. Dóone’é nishlínígíí éí Táchii'nii nishlí, Bilagáana báshíshchíín, T'ó'aheedl'ííníí dashicheii, Bilagáana dashinálí.

My name is Christine Ami and, as a faculty member of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, I teach Anthropology, History, and Indigenous Research Methodologies and Methods. I hold a B.A. in Spanish and Foreign Language Education (Rowan University) and a M.A. in Latin American Literature – emphasis in Colonial Studies (University of Maryland, College Park). I received my doctoral degree in Native American Studies with an emphasis in Diné Studies, Animal Studies and Decolonial Studies at the University of California, Davis. My research investigates the nuances of traditional butchering of sheep throughout the Navajo Nation. These variations also correspond with the various approaches to inherent Diné decolonizing practices, which I analyze throughout my dissertation, “Díí jí nída’iil’ah : A Study of Traditional Navajo Butchering."

Additionally, as the Navajo Cultural Arts Program (NCAP) Grant Manager at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona, I am responsible programing associated with the Navajo Cultural Arts Certificate Program, the Navajo Cultural Arts Apprenticeship Program as well as various cultural arts lectures and workshops offered throughout the year. For more information about the NCAP, please visit