Legend of the Ghostway Ritual in the Male Branch of Shootingway Part One, Suckingway Part Two by Berard Haile
Hardcover, grey linen with jacket, 398 pages
Native Child Dinétah is reprinting and creating new editions of important historical writings to help preserve and continue Navajo culture, language, and history. We focus on generally difficult–to–access literature of enormous importance to the transmission of cultural knowledge from generation to generation. This is such a book.
Ghostway is generally recognized as a distinct ritual in Navajo Ceremonialism with the specific purpose of combatting any ugly condition. Conditions created by the use of witchcraft means become ugly, not only temporarily so, but because they jeopardize the very life of the victim. Ghostway rituals, are chiefly concerned with removing these ugly conditions.
After arriving in St. Michaels, Arizona in 1900, the author, Father Berard made studying the unwritten Navajo language his first priority. He contributed to Navajo linguistic studies immensely, which is all the more valuable for the fact that few others have had his opportunities to live so long with the People and to learn their culture so well. He remained among the Dine for 54 years. Although linguistics seemed to be Fr. Berard’s primary ethnographic passion, his expertise extended equally to Navajo ceremonialism. Ghostway was originally recorded in 1929 and published in 1950.
In 1953 the Navajo Tribal Council passed a resolution which read in part: “Father Berard Haile has spent his life among the Navajo people learning to know and understand us and our religion, and has, more than any other living non–Indian, through close contact with Navajos and the medicine men of our tribe and by his indefatigable labor, reduced our language to written form and succeeded in preserving for future generations the knowledge of the Navajo history and religion.”