Peterson Zah, a citizen of the Navajo Nation, is former Chairman (1982-1987) and former President (1990-1994) of the Navajo Nation. He received a bachelor's degree in Education from ASU and has earned honorary doctoral degrees from ASU, Colorado College, and College of Santa Fe.
From 1967-1982, Zah was co-founder and later became Executive Director of DinÃ© be'iinÃ¡ NÃ¡hiilnaah bee Agha'diit?aahii (DNA) People's Legal Service. As the executive director of the DNA People's Legal Service, he oversaw several of the nonprofit's legal cases eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dr. Zah began his political work in Indian Country with election to the Window Rock school board in 1972. In 1983, Dr. Zah was elected Chairman of the Navajo Nation for a four-year term. By 1991, he was the 1st President-elect of the new Navajo Nation government. In his time as President and Chairman, Dr. Zah is credited with working effectively to implement Navajo Education Policy, renegotiating mineral, coal, oil, and gas leases with major energy companies, and enacting the Judicial Reform Act of 1985 as well as working on efforts to resolve the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. Dr. Zah is also credited with utilizing funds won in a major US Supreme Court lawsuit to establish the Navajo Nation Permanent Trust Fund which, to date, has grown to over a billion dollars.
From 1995 to 2011, he served as Special Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs at Arizona State University (ASU), representing the university in external relations with non-profit organizations, local communities, federal, state, and tribal governments. He is credited for more than doubling Native American student enrollment.
In 1998, he became director of the western regional office of the Save the Children Federation and established an office in Albuquerque, N.M. He is the recipient of several awards, including the Humanitarian Award from the City of Albuquerque.
Currently, Dr. Zah is President and CEO of Restore Harmony, Inc. and was recently named to the Secretarial Commission on Indian Trust Administration and Reform. In addition to his consultant work, Dr. Zah is an author. His most recent book, with Regents' Professor of History Emeritus Peter Iverson, is titled We Will Secure Our Future: Empowering the Navajo Nation.