In a recent event at the Rothko Chapel, a Cooperation Circle member of the United Religions Initiative, hosted Suzanne Benally, the first Indigenous Executive Director of Cultural Survival to share her personal spiritual journey as a Navajo and Santa Clara from New Mexico and how this shapes her understanding of the concept of the divine. Benally explored the meaning of the Navajo concept “Hozho,” which is centered on living responsibly in a web of relationships emphasizing reciprocity with and reverence for all beings.
Suzanne Benally is the first Indigenous Executive Director of Cultural Survival, an organization that advocates for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience since 1972. She is Navajo and Santa Clara Tewa from New Mexico.
Benally was the Associate Provost for Institutional Planning and Assessment and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She was a core faculty member in environmental studies and a member of the president’s cabinet. Before starting at Naropa in 1999, she was Deputy Director and Director of Education Programs at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Director of the Institute on Ethnic Diversity at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. She has worked extensively with American Indian communities and her interests, teaching, and passions are focused on the relationship between land, spirituality, and people as reflected in stories, and in environmental issues and Indigenous rights.
She spoke as part of the “Concept of the Divine” series, which provides a unique opportunity for speakers to share how their personal concept of the Divine has changed over time and shaped their lives, their service to the community, and views about their place in the cosmos. As an organization committed to interfaith dialogue and engagement, this series offers an excellent opportunity to hear from people representing diverse faith communities and other sectors of society about this important topic. To learn more about other Concept of the Divine programs, click here.