Ruth Roessel, Navajo Educator (Video)

Ruth Roessel, an educator and founder of the Rough Rock Community School in Rough Rock, Arizona on the Navajo Nation.

In addition, Ruth and her husband, Bob Roessel, are credited with helping to found Navajo Community College in the 1960s– Now Diné College.

Ruth Roessel with Navajo Rug

Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

She was director of Native American Studies at Rough Rock Community School and a principal at Round Rock Elementary School. She was active in the American Federation of Teachers, Navajo Women’s Association, North American Indian Women’s Association, and the Arizona Women in Higher Education.

Ruth Roessel Interview Navajo Oral History Project

 Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

Ruth Roessel with her husband Bob Roessel are remembered for their work and dedication that led to the founding of both the Rough Rock Demonstration School in 1966 and Navajo Community College, now Diné College, in 1968.


Ruth Roessel, Navajo Educator in Office

Photo by Tom Grier/Navajo Oral History Project.

She and her husband were devoted to helping the Navajo people maintain their cultural identity, know their history, embrace the Navajo language, and treat others with respect and k’e.

Books by Ruth W. Roessel:

Navajo livestock reduction : a national disgrace
Navajo stories of the long walk period
Navajo studies at Navajo Community College
Papers on Navajo culture and life
Women in Navajo society

Ruth Roessel died in april of 2012 in Cortez, Colorado, after a brief illness. She was 77.


This documentary film was researched, photographed, edited and produced by students of Winona State University (Winona, Minnesota) and Diné College (Tsaile, Arizona, Navajo Nation) during summer 2009.

It contains stories Harry Walters of Cove, Arizona, told the students during several hours of interviews about his life.

This documentary film is archived at the Navajo Nation MuseumNavajo Nation LibraryWinona State University Library, and Diné College Library, and will be archived at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

The film is part of the Navajo Oral History project, a multi-year collaboration between the Winona State UniversityMass Communication Department and Diné College– The official Tribal College of the Navajo Nation


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