He was educated at Phoenix Indian School and Arizona State University, where he received a bachelor"s degree in education in 1963.
Since 1995, he has been working at Arizona State University as the Special Adviser to Arizona State University President on American Indian Affairs. Zah also works as a consultant to companies attempting to do business on the Navajo Nation. After college, Zah spent a year working in Phoenix for the Arizona Vocational Education Department, teaching carpentry to adult students seeking vocational skills.
From 1965 to 1967 he was a participant in Volunteers in Service to America (Volunteers in Service to America), working at Arizona State University as field coordinator of a training center.
In 1967 Zah became executive director of the Diné beʼiiná Náhiilnaah bee Aghaʼdiitʼaahii (deoxyribonucleic acid) People"s Legal Service, a nonprofit organization. He remained in that position until 1981.
Under Zah"s leadership, several of the organization"s legal cases related to Indian sovereignty reached the United States. Supreme Court. In 1983 he became chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council at Window Rock, the governing body for the Navajo reservation headquartered there.
He served in that position until 1987, when he became engaged in fundraising for the Navajo Education and Scholarship Foundation.
In 1989 and 1990 he directed a regional office for Save the Children, and in 1990 was elected president of the new Navajo Nation, the first person to be elected to that position. He was inaugurated as President on Tuesday, January 15, 1991. Zah and Sidney had been childhood friends.
But ultimately nothing was done to help the Navajo Hopi JUA Situation, which led to thousands of Navajos being relocated.
The NNPTF has grown to over a billion dollars. In 1995 Peterson Zah became Special Advisor to the President on American Indian Affairs for Arizona State University.
Zah has received honorary degrees from Colorado College and the College of Santa Fe.
Member Arizona advisory committee United States Civil Rights Commission, since 1983. President Window Rock School Board, since 1973. Member National Association Indian Legal Services.
Married Rosalind Begay. Children: Elaine, Eileen, Keeyonnie.