The Navajo Method of Peacemaking

Peace in our societies is an important goal for all of us.

I really enjoy reading the e-bulletin called ‘Daily Good – News that Inspires’. It is wonderful to have the daily counter-balance of a positive story amid the doom and gloom of media coverage. One which inspired me recently, and which I thought was worth passing on, was about the Navajo process of peacemaking written by Mark Sorensen.

Healing rather than punishment

What is inspiring is that Navajo Peacemaking is not focused on determining who is at fault; rather it is centred on bringing those who have conflicts back into harmonious relationships. In other words, it is more about healing than punishment. Sorensen writes about how this process is used in the school of which he is the Principal.

Respect, Relationship, Responsibility, and Reverence

Sorensen states that the full-blown traditional Peacemaking procedure is rarely needed as everyone in the school, from the bus drivers to the smallest child, practices the Navajo Peacemaking values on which the school is based: Respect, Relationship, Responsibility, and Reverence (the 4 Rs).

If there is a problem with a young person’s behaviour, however, a Peacemaker agrees to run a session.

Seven Steps to the Navajo Peacemaking

According to Sorensen, the seven steps of the process include:

Step 1 A request for spiritual assistance is made. This is often thought of as offering a prayer for the best possible outcome for everyone, but in the Navajo view, it could also be thought of as aligning ourselves with Hozho, the state of harmony and beauty.

Step 2 Everyone present (and this can include relatives and concerned others) identifies how they are connected or related to one another.

Step 3 The Peacemaker describes the rules of behavior in the session (such as only one person speaking at a time).

Step 4 The participants describe the problem that caused the conflict. The Peacemaker often asks the person who feels most wronged to go first.

Step 5 The Peacemaker guides the discussion to identify areas of common ground, such as everyone’s desire to be treated with respect.

Step 6 Specific things are agreed on for each party to do to renew the relationship. Heartfelt apologies are often exchanged at this time.

Step 7 A statement of gratitude and appreciation is made for relationships being repaired and moving forward with hope.

I love that fact that the process:

– starts with asking for spiritual assistance, aligning with high vibrations, as we do in healing

– involves the wider family and community, confirming that it takes a village or community to raise a child

– shows respect throughout the process

– aims for renewal and repair of relationships, healing rather than judgement.

Most peaceful countries

Incidentally, the Global Peace Index has issued a report which lists 162 countries in the world according to how peaceful they are, based on 22 indicators (such as the absence of war, violence, low military spending, levels of policing, organised crime, and a democratic government.

You might be interested that Great Britain does not feature. The top 20 are:

1. Iceland, 2. Denmark, 3. New Zealand, 4. Austria, 5. Switzerland, 6. Japan, 7. Finland, 8. Canada, 9. Sweden, 10. Belgium, 11. Norway, 12. Ireland, 13. Slovenia, 14. Czech Republic, 15. Germany, 16. Australia, 17. Singapore, 18. Portugal, 19. Quatar, 20. Bhutan

Application of the Navajo Peacemaking values, or similar principles, would be a way of benefiting our relationships within our communities and be a step to increase peace in our world.


Su Mason

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