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Evaluation/Assessment of Navajo Peacemaking

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1999
58 pages
The intent of this study was to investigate the relative effect of Navajo Peacemaking as an intervention in family conflict, in comparison with a family court intervention.
This study assessed and evaluated the effectiveness of Navajo Peacemaking in reducing family conflict. Peacemaking is a type of “restorative justice”, since its objective is conflict resolution through the healing of relations between individuals in conflict. It is a service to communities and families needing a minimally formal, accessible, and affordable form of conflict dispute service. However, it differs from other restorative models on several key points: (1) peacemakers are not impartial, (2) direction from peacemakers is taken from traditional Navajo wisdom narratives, (3) its focus tends to be relational and communal healing, (4) evidence is not necessarily objective, (5) primacy is given to the feelings of process participants, and (6) objective of hearing conforms to the Navajo experience of hozho (justice). The study presents several groups of dependent variables within the survey: the perception that the hearing was fair, family court or peacemaking helped the respondent to find or experience hozho, the court process settled the presenting problem, the court process gave the respondent the opportunity to voice his/her feelings, the judge/peacemaker liaison helped in settling the problem, the judge/peacemaker liaison was fair, and the judge/peacemaker liaison clearly explained the court process to respondent. The study suggests that peacemaking offers individuals and groups experiencing conflict a compelling opportunity to achieve resolution and community/family justice. Process participants expressed their sense of hozho with peacemaking. Peacemaking participants showed a rate of reoccurrence of the presenting problem of 29 percent, while those processed through family court show a rate of reoccurrence of 64 percent. This study contends that peacemaking is more effective than family court in reducing conflict within and between families and neighbors. However, additional research is suggested. Appendices and References

Date Published: February 1, 1999