In 1986, the first Navajo Studies Conference was held at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Co-founders Charlotte Frisbie and David Brugge along with conference chairperson Lucille Stilwell organized and implemented this first gathering. The conference allowed scholars to compile and disseminate Navajo cultural and historical knowledge they had gathered over decades. They recognized the information gleaned was relevant and significant for the Navajo people and to the future of the Navajo Nation.
Since 1986, the Navajo Studies Conference has grown into an organization of Navajo and non-Navajo scholars, activists, community members, educators, and students. Twenty conferences and three symposiums have been held throughout the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico, and even in Colorado. Hundreds of Navajo and non-Navajo individuals have become members of the organization.
In 2000, the organization applied for nonprofit status under the laws of the Navajo Nation and acquired 501(c)3 status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and became incorporated. At this time, a Board of Directors was established on a volunteer basis and a set of By-Laws was developed to guide our efforts. The Navajo Studies Conference, Inc. (NSCI) is currently governed by an all-Navajo Board of Directors elected by NSCI membership at each conference or symposium. The nine-member Board of Directors directs planning and decision-making regarding our conferences, symposiums, and other activities.
Navajo Studies Conference co-founder David Brugge passed to the spirit world on March 15, 2013.