From 2007 until 2010, Dr. Peterson Zah and Dr. Peter Iverson met in the Labriola National American Indian Data Center to record talks for their new book We Will Secure Our Future: Empowering the Navajo Nation.
The experiences Peterson Zah touches on in this interview include his early encounters with traders as a young child in the 1940s, his work at the DNA People’s Legal Services program in the late 1960s, and his involvement in the non-profit organization Southwest Indian Development Inc. in the 1970s and 1980s. Zah focuses on the topic of traders and trading posts on the Navajo Nation. He discusses the growing problems created by unfair traders and how his collaboration with nine Navajo college students to create Southwest Indian Development Inc. allowed for things to change for the better. Zah recalls the dedication of the organization to provide research and compelling reports to the Trading Post Committee of the Navajo tribal council and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in order to amend the trading issues. He also discusses the hearing that the Federal Trade Commission conducted once the Southwest Indian Development Inc. requested their presence after being brushed off by the Navajo tribal council and the BIA. The interview concludes with Zah explaining the role that the DNA People’s Legal Services played in the whole trader controversy and how the actions of the Southwest Indian Development Inc. allowed for shopping centers and post offices to replace shady traders and trading posts.