The Navajo Nation
The Navajo are the largest tribe in America. Our reservation is about the size of West Virginia with portions of land in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The Navajo Nation is home to about 350,000 Navajo.
The Navajo Nation is operated like a sovereign nation in many ways. We have our own police force, judicial system, tribal council and president. It is amazing to cross into our reservation and see what seems like a little country co-existing within the borders of the United States.
The Navajo Codetalkers
Like many Native Americans, the Navajo have had their fair share of mistreatment by the American Government. Testimonies have been given by some, of being punished just for speaking their own language out loud in public. How ironic that in World War II the Navajo were called upon to use that same language to create a code that could not be broken. At Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." Today these men are hailed as true American heroes.
The Sweat Lodge
The sweat lodge is used as a means of purification and offers the practitioner a new beginning upon exiting the sweat lodge. It is said that when one has lost his direction in life that he must re-enter "Mother Earth" to be reborn. This ceremony offers a new beginning and a new life but is allowed to be done only four times within a person's lifetime.
The Squaw Dance
The Squaw-dance is the only affair at which couples dance. Navajos say that "Squaw-dance" is a white man's name for it; it is really a war-dance. It is also a curing ceremony, the disease being the enemy to be defeated.
The whole affair lasts three days, starting at the home of the patient and moving each day a day's journey for a horse. The trek is made slowly in wagons or on horseback, and every day the crowd increases. On the second night a few men, daubed with mud, dance a wild shouting turn, as a prayer for rain. Only on the last night do women dance.
The Medicine Man
The modern-day medicine man is hired to perform anything from ceremonies of blessing for community centers to ceremonies of protection from skin walkers and witches. Today's medicine man is also used regularly for physical healing and to find out if any difficulties have emerged in one's life due to violating taboos.