Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Chemistry, Environmental Studies and Geosciences

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Chair

Edward Rosenberg

Commitee Members

Vicki Watson, Aaron Thomas, Jani Ingram, Ke Wu


Diné Science, Groundwater, Indigenous Research Methodologies/ Knowledge, Metal Contaminants, Silica Polyamine Composities, Water Science


University of Montana


The intent of this study was multifaceted and based on a research framework that incorporated the Diné worldview and Diné Science. Diné Science describes a holistic approach to conducting scientific research. It encompasses Diné foundational concepts and philosophies and applies them to the scientific method and western scientific approaches. The four major philosophies, Nitsáhákees (Thinking), Nahat’á (Planning), Iiná (Implementing/Living) and Siih Hasin (Reflection/Assurance), were applied to this research process.

The main motivation is first and foremost to improve the quality of life of the Diné people especially those living in close proximity to abandoned mines and who are continuing to live with the legacies left behind by these mines. Moreover, restoring and returning to a balanced and harmonious life, by incorporating the principles of Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’éh Hózhóón (SNBH) as the core philosophy to guide the research in a respectful manner and implement practices of Indigenous Research Methodologies (IRM) for establishing a cohesive and cooperative study that combines western science, traditional knowledge and community involvement. IRM is a fluid, constantly changing approach to conducting research in and with Indigenous communities and practicing the 6 Rs, Respect, Relationship, Reciprocity, Representation, Relevance and Responsibility.

Currently, many Diné communities are facing challenges with groundwater contamination, lack of safe and adequate water resources and infrastructure. This study aims to address the longstanding water contamination issues in unregulated water sources. The findings from this study have determined the current status of the groundwater quality in the Tsétah area in northeastern Arizona and surrounding communities.

A second aim investigated Silica Polyamine Composites (SPC) to remediate contaminated water sources. SPCs are a hybrid porous material that have been used to filter, isolate and remove unwanted metals by acting as a chelating agent. These materials have been demonstrated to be effective for the removal of elements of concern in the study area. More specifically, uranium, arsenic and vanadium.

And finally, the last aim is to develop a point of use filter, SPC-POU, as a temporary solution for the community to tackle issues with those water sources that are contaminated with toxic metals.



© Copyright 2020 Ranalda Lynette Tsosie