Article Title

Career Dilemmas among Diné (Navajo) College Graduates: An Exploration of the Dinétah (Navajo Nation) Brain Drain


Like many Indigenous nations, the Navajo Nation has worked to develop its human and economic potential. It has provided scholarships and other supports to enable its members to pursue post-secondary education. However, relatively few of these college-educated members return to the reservation to contribute directly to its development. This phenomenon has been termed a brain drain. This study explored the experiences of 28 college-educated Navajos who, while raised on the reservation, were living off the reservation after completing their post-secondary education. Participants indicated a number of factors that went into their decision to live off the reservation. These included:

  1. Ké’: Relationships/Connections to Family, Culture, Homeland, People;
  2. Iiná: Lifestyle/Lifeway, Desirable Setting, Learned Work Ethic, Social Atmosphere, Togetherness (Diné) vs. Individualism (Mainstream);
  3. Bee ach’į’ na’hwii’ná: Resources and Roadblocks to Making a Life, Infrastructure, Services, The “System”;
  4. Bee ajit’9: Opportunity, Prosperity and Personal Improvement, Education, Extracurricular, Job Availability, Work Experience.


Funding for this research was provided by the McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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