Naat’áanii

As election season nears, you should know that naat’áanii is the Navajo word for leader. It can also refer to someone who holds a position of leadership, like a boss, superintendent, or chief.

In the Navajo sense, Naat’áanii have been observed to follow 4 basic tenets of leadership (remember that 4 is a recurring number in Navajo tradition). It is roughly described as follows: 1) Thought process and planning; 2) implementation and actualization of planning; 3) the period of change that follows action; 4) the reiteration of the planning for improvement.

In the old days, this leadership structure was taught to certain children who were expected to become leaders later in life. It was common that the thought process was carried out by women, and then executed by the men. This is why Navajo culture is, at its core, matrilineal.