Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Joanna Howard

Second Advisor

Selah Saterstrom

Third Advisor

Poupeh Missaghi

Fourth Advisor

Christine Nelson


Diné storytelling, Poetry, Fiction, Indigenous literature


In a poem by Rex Lee Jim, he writes “saad éí ná’iiłná,” which can be understood as “language/voice/sound moves the soul.” This short yet complex poetic line is a whole philosophy that plays an important role in how Diné storytelling can be understood. My dissertation, saad éí ná’iiłná, explores how the Diné idea of “ná’iiłná,” or things that move the soul in an emotional, physical, and spiritual way, contributes to a Diné literary theory and understanding of storytelling. To subvert western notions of genre, my dissertation is a meeting place for traditional Diné stories, family stories, memory, poetry, teachings from medicine people, photographs, and other forms of telling. Through “ná’iiłná,” stories, in all their forms, have the power to carry a person into the future, always moving toward health, healing, and a better life.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. This work may only be accessed by members of the University of Denver community. The work is provided by permission of the author for individual research purposes only and may not be further copied or distributed. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Manny Loley


Received from author

File Format



en, Navajo, Diné Bizaad

File Size

178 pgs


Creative writing