Graduation Year

Spring 2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis


Environment, Economics and Politics

Reader 1

Emil Morhardt

Reader 2

Nancy Neiman Auerbach

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Mariah Tso


Food deserts are low-income areas lacking access to nutritious and affordable food. Such limited access has various implications for public health, particularly diet-related diseases such as diabetes. Among American Indian communities, diabetes is particularly rampant at nearly twice the rate of white populations in the U.S. On the Navajo Nation, diabetes incidence has been estimated to be as high as 1 in 3. According to the USDA, the majority of the Navajo Nation is considered a food desert. This paper utilizes food sovereignty as a lens for decolonization to identify the underlying causes of hunger and nutrition-related diseases within Diné communities. This paper will explore the histories of the change in the Diné diet and how colonial processes and the loss of traditional food systems affects current food and health patterns on the Navajo Nation. By expanding the scope of public health issues such as obesity and diabetes in Native American communities from food access and nutrition to power relations embedded in colonial structures that have resulted in the loss of indigenous sovereignty and power, I hope to pinpoint entry points for future indigenous researchers to develop and enact policies that will expand access to healthy and culturally significant foods on the Navajo Nation and contribute to efforts to restore food sovereignty of the Navajo Nation by rebuilding local food economies.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.