Manley Begay

Manley A. Begay, Jr., Ed.D.


Manley A. Begay, Jr. is a tenured Professor in the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies (AIS) and Department of Politics and International Affairs at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff (NAU). Professor Begay is also an affiliate faculty member of the W. A. Franke College of Business at NAU. He is also, director of the Tribal Leadership Initiative in the Office of Native American Initiative at NAU. Professor Begay joined the NAU faculty in summer of 2014. At NAU, he has primary responsibility for teaching about Indigenous Nation-Building, Navajo History and Philosophy, and directing the Tribal Leadership Initiative.

Beginning in 1997, he has also been co-director (with Professors Joseph Kalt and Stephen Cornell) of the award-winning Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Since 1987, the Harvard Project has worked for and with Indigenous governments, enterprises, organizations, and communities world-wide providing research, advisory services, and executive education on issues of nation-building and economic development.

Starting in 2000, he was both associate social scientist and senior lecturer in the American Indian Studies Program (AISP) at The University of Arizona (UofA). Professor Begay also served as affiliate faculty member of the Institute for Environment and Society at The University of Arizona. In the AISP, he was primarily responsible for teaching the graduate and undergraduate courses in Indigenous Nation-Building, Dine’ History and Philosophy, Curriculum Development, and Indigenous Education. He also sat on doctoral committees for graduate students from New Zealand, across the United States, Australia, and Canada. Further, at the UofA, Professor Begay served as the founding director (2000-2009) of the Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy (NNI) of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, NNI founding faculty chair (2009-2011), and NNI faculty associate (2011-2012). As director at the NNI, he had the overall responsibility of administration, research, fund-raising, and management of the organization.

Professor Begay is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the primary planners and designers of the now-accepted theory of how Indigenous nations and communities build nations that work—Indigenous Nation-Building. In the course of his academic and consulting career, Professor Begay has extensively researched, published, and lectured widely on the development of Indigenous communities and their resources. He has served as a member of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, Canada’s high-level, federal review of its policies with regard to its Indigenous communities and economic development; International Advisory Committee for the Indigenous Community Governance Research Project for Reconciliation Australia, Australia’s top international research effort for the advancement of Indigenous people; Aboriginal Program Advisory Committee (Co-Chair) of the Aboriginal Leadership and Self-Government Program at The Banff Centre for Management in Banff, Alberta, Canada; and has lectured in-person at Warsaw University in Warsaw, Poland; with the U.S. Embassy Speaker’s Program in Mexico; Australian Ambassador’s Lecture Series in Washington, D.C.; 2nd Narrm Oration of the Murrup Barak Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development at the University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, and University of Jordan at Amman, Jordan via digital video conference. Furthermore, his research and consulting experience has focused on projects about and for Native nations in the promotion of strong and effective institutions of governance and leadership.

Prior to working with the Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, Harvard University, and Native Nations Institute for Leadership, Management, and Policy, he was a principal and assistant principal on the Navajo Nation and high school teacher on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.

In 2015, Dr. Begay was a recipient of the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Award and named Man of the Year by the Phoenix Indian Center of Phoenix, Arizona.

Professor Begay is considered as the first Navajo to graduate from Harvard University with a doctorate.