Nearing graduation from Phoenix Indian School, Peterson Zah decided he wanted to attend college. He was refused the reference letters needed for college admission by teachers who told him he would fail and thus embarrass them. Several years later, these instructors would receive invitations from Zah to a party celebrating his graduation from Arizona State University. And so began a career that took Zah to the presidency of the Navajo Nation. His life and accomplishments have exemplified the ongoing efforts by American Indian communities to gain greater control over their lives and lands. He has made important contributions in many areas, but education has always been one of his main priorities. Perhaps one in the Southwest has done more than Peterson Zah to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation of American Indian students from colleges and universities. Zah's presentations to Peter Iverson's classes at Arizona State University, employed examples drawn from his own experiences. Students praised his thoughtful, honest and direct observations. He reinforced a central theme in Iverson's classesthat Indian history encompasses triumph as well as tragedy and victory as well as victimization. This book grew out of Iverson's determination to share Zah's insights with a wider audience. The two met every few months to consider many subjects related to Zah's life. These sessions formed the foundation for this volume. Part autobiography, part interview, and part conversation, Zah and Iverson's account touches on a wide range of overlapping topics, but two central themes prevail: education and empowerment. We Will Secure Our Future is a fascinating look into the life of a man who became a respected visionary and passionate advocate for his people.
Born in Keams Canyon, Arizona, in 1937, Peterson Zah became director of the Navajo Legal Services Program. He was later elected as chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council and then as president of the Navajo Nation. He was also a special advisor to the president of Arizona State University which presented him with an honorary doctorate in 2005. Peter Iverson is Regents' Professor of History (emeritus) at Arizona State University. He is the author or editor of 15 books including Dine A History of the Navajos and We Are Still Here : American Indians in the Twentieth Century.