The Navaho War Dance: A Brief Narrative of Its Meaning and Practice
Navajo Singers (medicine men) have always helped their Native veterans heal from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder through a War Dance, also known as the “Enemy Way”. As Father Berard Haile writes in this publication: “To be sure the young warrior has slain the enemy and taken the life out of his body. But dreams about his encounters, dreams of actual combat or of actual contacts with, and sights of injured foreigners and the like, may haunt the returned boy or girl in his native habitat. There is loss of sleep and pep, a general listlessness and weakness which nothing at home can account for. Isn’t it perhaps that those foreign journeys and contacts cause this condition? That the ghosts of those enemies are still active and are haunting him?” In his publication he gives a short description of the songs, prayers, drumming, and herbs used to cleanse the body from the effects of war. For a more indepth understanding of the Enemy Way, Native Child Dinétah has published Father Berard’s work: Origin Legend of the Navaho Enemy Way, which includes the Navajo text and translation.