The Navajo Ant Project

Integrating Navajo cultural values with the scientific method

Ya'at'eeh (Hello). The Navajo Ant Project's goal is to integrate traditional Navajo cultural values with the modern scientific method as it explores the ant biodiversity on the Navajo Reservation.

The Navajo Ant Project is the first comprehensive scientific field study of the distribution and abundance of ants on Navajo Nation land. Harvard University collaborators are contributing expertise in teaching, ant identification, field work, insect photography and experimental design. They are collaborating with Navajo students and Navajo teaching staff to conduct and publish research on the biodiversity of ants. Special habitat areas of interest have been selected as field sites for the study of ant diversity. Different elevations, soil types and plant communities have been chosen to maximize the potential to collect a diverse number of ants. The Navajo ant research team will use the latest in Global Information System (GIS) technology and field collecting techniques to study the role of native ants in the ecology and conservation of biodiversity.

We hope to motivate and encourage Navajo people to study and appreciate the diversity on their lands and to protect and to cherish these resources for future generations.

Nitsahakees is the stage in which critical thought is given to a problem to develop a systematic approach to solving it. In Nahata a plan is developed to solve the problem. Iina is the stage in which plans are put into operation leading to an acceptable solution. In Siihasin confidence is developed by evaluating and analyzing the results and procedures.