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Navajo Healing Ceremonies and the Modern Warrior

Navajo Code Talkers Coin (Front).jpg

The Navajo culture has a long history of conducting "healing" ceremonies to ward off death, curses and ghosts that haunt the living. These ceremonies have their basis in their origin legends and seek the aid of the Yei or "holy people" to heal their returning combat warriors. If a warrior sees or dreams of a ghost it is imperative that the appropriate healing chant or ceremony be conducted to preserve the life of the individual and protect the community to whom they have returned (Dutton, 89). 

As a result of the horrors of World War II, the lack of treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and their oath to secrecy making it hard to share their experiences as a form of treatment (like other veterans), many Navajo codetalkers sought their cultural healing ceremonies to aid in their return to the living (McLain, 227).

The continued failure of the Veterans Administration to acknowledge and effectively treat PTSD, further encouraged returning Indigenous Korean and Vietnam War Veterans to seek comfort utilizing their ceremonies, contributing to the First Nations movement of the 1960s and 1970s.  

It was not until the extensive evidence of stress and moral injury caused to numerous returning Gulf War, Afghan and Iraqi combat veterans did the Veteran's Administration accept and start to proactively treat PTSD. Combined with President Busch's recognition of the Navajo codetalkers in 2000 and all Indigenous codetalkers in 2008, and the publication of their personal histories concerning their combat and transitioning experiences further encouraged the Veterans Administration to acknowledge Native American healing ceremonies as a valid form of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).    

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