The Navajo tribe is a very culturally rich group that has developed close to a hundred different ceremonies, rituals, songs, and other practices that they use as part of Navajo tradition. These are believed to help appease the supernatural beings they believed in, and also grant specific needs and wants that the members pray and hope for. While many of these Navajo traditions have died along with the majority of the elders, many still are kept alive through practice and observance by modern Navajo Indians.
1. Sand Painting
Sand painting was used during healing rites and embodied the powers invoked by the medicine man in order to bring wellness and drive away negativity from the member being healed. There were a wide variety of different sand paintings that they developed, and these are symbolized different powers that offered wellness and healing to those in need of it.
2. Healing Rites
The healing rites that the Navajo people used were very different from the healing methods we know today. First, a hand trembler would determine what the person’s ailment was, and it was based on his diagnosis that a medicine man would choose the right method of healing. Herbs, plants, and other materials would be collected for the rite, and a Hogan would either be chosen or built depending on the need. These practices could not be rushed or overlooked, as every part of the Navajo healing practice was important in order to achieve optimum wellness.
Navajo hair is kept long and usually grows straight. There is a lot of care that goes into managing and maintaining Navajo hair, and it’s these practices that continue to live on to this day. While many modern Navajo members care for others hair as a sign of love, the truth behind the need to care for hair stems from the symbolism that long hair has. For the Navajos, long hair is a representation or honor for their tribe, and the longer it grows, the more honor a member gives to their people.
The Thunderbird was acknowledged by the Navajos as the Creator and Destroyer of all life, and that’s why it was important to appease this supernatural being in order to maintain the natural order of life. Many songs and ceremonies have been developed to praise and pray to the Thunderbird, and in times of distress or thankfulness, these are performed to appease the rain bringer.