Navajo History

"My elders always warned me to look out for whites. They have something on their minds. I don't feel that here."
Those were the words stated by a 35 year old Navajo man, who asked me not to use his name and is a resident at the ESW recovery house. He has good reason behind that statement. There is still a lot of misunderstanding between whites and the Navajo Indians.

"People here donít just try to show you the Anglo side. They incorporate both cultures. People have asked me about cedar and there have been times (working on recovery) where traditions such as burning cedar

(important in Navajo ceremonies for cleansing) I feel comfortable with that." Our guest reported that just a few short weeks ago he would not have shared this point of view. "The atmosphere here has helped me to open up." He also reports being at the recovery house has regenerated his interest in the practice of traditional Navajo spiritual ways.

"Last week I bought some traditional medicines and began to use them as I was taught. Over the past four

years during my drinking I wouldnít have spent the money for that. It wouldíve gone for beer."

Currently this guest is volunteering to work on a Hogan which is a circular or six-sided dwelling with a domed roof and the doorway facing east.

"Sometimes when I was working and drinking, I didnít give a damn about getting up. Now I feel this work Iím doing is really therapeutic. It will help me get back to being self-sufficient."

"If I wasn't here. I'd probably be out drinking, lying, and stealing."
"I've found a new

way of living. There's

good fellowship, meet

good people I like to

call friends. I'm

retraining my self to

live sober."

20 year old recovery

house resident
Unfortunately these options are more available for Navajo Indian youth than a chance to live their dreams. Garrick, a 20-year old young man who spoke these words had lived them before completing treatment in Shiprock, NM at a Navajo Nation treatment center. He felt he needed to pay some attention to himself and thatĎs why he came to the recovery home. "I was helping my grandfather on the farm. I felt good, but I felt a sense of obligation to meet their needs. I wasnít giving much thought to me. Now Iíve been able to focus on myself. " Like in the previous story, he is volunteering to work on the Hogan behind the recovery home. "Volunteering makes me feel good. Itís good to do something for others. Itís helped me to humble myself."

Goals: return to college complete Bachelors/ Advanced Degree "allowing use of my creativity."

Alcoholism and Poverty: Daily Life On the Rez
Contrary to the myth perpetuated through U.S. History not all Native Americans are alcoholics. Caught living between "two worlds", the Navajo People have had their share of problems . Consequently these situations have helped contribute to the use of alcohol. Some of these challenges include:
  • Near 30% unemployment. This leads to boredom and drinking. McKinley county where we are located has the highest rate of alcoholism in the country.
  • Federal Officials now admit to an inferior educational system creating a permanent
underclass. A less educated society is more prone to alcohol use.

Lack of basic services like electricity and water. Feelings of hopelessness increases consumption of alcohol. A Navajo man who is a carpenter reports that "companies come here from the outside with short-term work. Nothing great."
Navajo World Home Navajo World Online Store

Page: 4