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59 "A Navajo Tradition"

Updated on February 22, 2016

Something I believe we should consider.


“A Navajo Tradition”

Something I believe we should consider.

Back in the days of the so-called “wild” Indians, the Navajo had a ritual that they still use today, and I feel this idea should be considered for use today in some cases. Not necessarily the ritual, but the tradition or idea.

My brother-in-law is constantly researching his ancestry in south western Colorado. Also, in his history finding searches, he has done a lot of investigating of the Indian background, especially in that area, mostly the Ute and Navajo tribes of southern Colorado and New Mexico.

Anyway, he brought to my attention a certain ritual that the Navajo went through to deal with their “wrong-doers”. They still perform this ritual to a certain extent.

By Navajo tradition, life is continuity or betrayal. A Hataalii is a Navajo singer who is both, a singer and a councilor. Hozho, to the Navajo, is living in harmony. [Meaning the absence of ambiguity, uncertainty and indecision.]

The Navajo Hataalii ceremony reenacts some historic situation and is viewed both as a means of preserving history and a way to influence ideas of an audience.

The Navajo Hozho is designed to bring a “wrong-doer” back into harmony. By comparison, the Bilagaanii (white man) justice often favors punishment over treatment*. This to some is viewed as revenge. Perhaps the true concept of Hozho, to a Hataalii, allows ceremonial adjustment to achieve human adjustment. As a means of historic preservation the ceremony is more often subject to interpretation than a written history and may evolve quicker into inaccuracies. Thus, like many natural acts, can be correctly judged both good and bad when taken out of context of a specific setting.

*Punishment is a result of a cultural placing of blame, which to Hataalii is best treated by character reinforcement. By traditional Navajo culture negative thoughts or speaking can cause bad things to happen.

Anyway, the article above made me think about how we treat; or should I say punish, our criminals today. Sure there are the ones that need actual punishment, but then there are some that we punish that could be treated. I admit that the courts do look at this at times, but in my eyes, not often enough.

There are young people that are first time offenders that are incarcerated with older, hardened criminals that could be treated. By being placed in the situation they are, probably, off the top of my head, 90% of the time hardened themselves.

Although the Indians in general were considered uneducated, which they were, and sometimes animals, they were very intelligent in their own rights and only uneducated according to our ways, but then so were most of the white men in the wild west. And I feel they were really in touch with the inner self a lot more than the white man, at that time and now. I feel that we could learn a lot from them even today, if we would just listen.

Greg


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    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      4 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Kristy, it's something I picked up from my sister's husband when I was in Colo. He does a lot of research on the local past life there and knows a lot about Indian traditian. Thank you for the visit and comment. Greg.

    • Krmission profile image

      Kristy 

      4 years ago from Indiana

      So true about the younger criminals. Thanks for educating me on the Navajo Indians.

    • bulkbulk profile image

      bulkbulk 

      5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      Good to know about this. As you said, many get caught up in anger and not progressive tradition. BILL

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      5 years ago from Central Virginia

      Beautiful hub! The Navajo have many ceremonies and traditions that the dominant white culture could benefit from. I often think of their practice of greeting the sun each morning. Such a simple practice but with huge benefits. Thank you for writing about a subject near and dear to my heart.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Will, Thank you. In any language, negative thoughts or speaking can cause bad things to happen, if you stop to think about. I just like the treatment better than the punishment, in most cases anyway. Very good point with the Proverbs quote. Greg

    • wba108@yahoo.com profile image

      wba108@yahoo.com 

      6 years ago from upstate, NY

      "*Punishment is a result of a cultural placing of blame, which to Hataalii is best treated by character reinforcement. By traditional Navajo culture negative thoughts or speaking can cause bad things to happen."

      Negative thoughts and speech can cause bad things to happen is also a scriptural principle.

      "Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

      And those who love it will eat its fruit."(Prov18:21)

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Donald, Thank you. Thank you for the vote too. Greg

    • Donald1960 profile image

      Donald 

      6 years ago from United States

      Great hub. Voted up!

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Keri, Thank you. I believe that the young people need help instead of being put in school with hardened criminals. Greg

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 

      6 years ago from West of England

      Great Hub. Very interesting and thought-provoking. I was glad to knew learn new stuff about Navajo thinking and culture. I think it's great that some judges in the US choose to run some rehabilitation programs to really give young people a chance of getting straight and acquiring some responsible values rather than going straight to prison. May they have every success. (The young people and the judges!)

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi TT, Thank you. Yes it probably does boil down to money. But it does cost an awful lot to keep them in prison, and then they go through rehabilitation afterwards anyway while on parole. Greg

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      6 years ago from USA

      I think the problem boils down to money. If money were not an issue, we could separate those whom we might be able to help. As it stands, prisons are bureaucratic institutions (just like schools in many ways) that treat all criminals the same because doing so is efficient and cheaper. Pretty sad state of affairs!

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Mark, Thank you for your inspiring and agreeable answer. Greg

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      What an interesting tradition - I appreciate that you laid out the possible negative of misinterpretation of history while praising the overall idea.

      You are right, we need more treatment versus pure judgment. It is a sad thing to contemplate that a young offender can be led into a harder and more criminal lifestyle when lumped with those older and harder offenders. Our system sucks somewhat and when so many prisons are overflowing, something isn't right.

      I agree that we shouldn't exalt the native American culture wholesale, but respect their culture and recognize that at least some of their practices and philosophies are worth adopting - like thanking an animal killed for food and using every part for something useful. In this, the white man is a plague.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Bear, Thank you, Our system seems to think it is better to punish in prison and then rehabilitate with a period of perole, where they are still punishing them with sometimes unfair restrictions. Greg

    • spectacled-bear profile image

      Bob Barber 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Hi gregas,

      I enjoyed the sentiment in this article. We still use the word rehabilitation in our prison system, but our prison system does not often rehabilitate, as you point out. Hozho seems a much healthier approach. I went to Coconino County Community College in Flagstaff, Arizona, where there were a lot of Navaho and Hopi students, and I have been on the Navaho reservation many times. Thanks for the piece.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Sweethearts, Thank you for the visit and comment. It is really too bad that we can't get the thoughts and feelings of some of our hubber friends out for more people to read and share. Greg

    • sweethearts2 profile image

      sweethearts2 

      6 years ago from Northwest Indiana

      Interesting and useful hub and will definitely spend additional time here. Listening and examples of love and forgiveness have proven to be better teaching methods than punishment and isolation. We need to think about the response we want and then choose the path to achieve it.

      I enjoy learning all I can about the Native Americans. We've called them barbarians meaning without culture, then tried to make them forget their culture, profited from their culture and now finally beginning to understand and accept their culture.

      Thanks for choosing to remind us there are alternative ways to live and maintain harmony.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Barbara, Thank you for the follow, visit and comment. I can see where some are punished just to teaco others a lesson, and that is surely wrong. Greg

    • Les Trois Chenes profile image

      Les Trois Chenes 

      6 years ago from Videix, Limousin, South West France

      There is certaily much wrong with our 'justice' system - too many unhappy and ill people in jail. Unfortune, unlucky and victims. Often people seem to be jailed simply because somebody has to atone when something goes wrong.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi SW, Thank you for the visit and especially the comment. Greg

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      6 years ago from Isle of Man

      I agree with Mr Happy in that jail is like a school for criminals. Even if you aren't one going in you will certainly come out as one!

      I love your hub as I have a great affinity for the Native American Indians and their wonderful culture. I am glad our paths have crossed and I look forward to reading more of your hubs. Thank you.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Mr. Happy, Thank you for the visit and comment. I just know that sometimes there are people that go to prison, or even jail for something minor and come out even worse than they were before, as you said, they went to school. Greg

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 

      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      For criminals, going to jail is like going to school,

      When you come out, you're better at the crimes you do ... not my lines but I do think they're true. I lived most of my teenage/adult life in between ghettos ... still do.

      I certainly think the Navajo attitude to wrong-doers sounds much better, in my opinion. Thank You for sharing this. I appreciate it. : )

      May Wakan Tanka guide your path.

    • michabelle profile image

      michabelle 

      6 years ago

      This is true about treating criminals. So many made mistakes in their youth and even after release, having paid for their mistakes, are stigmatized for life. It seems that while Native Americans were busy surviving and being spiritual, the "white man" was busy conquering and making money. All have aggression of some form, but maybe for different purposes.

    • calico Stark profile image

      calico Stark 

      6 years ago from Earth for the time being

      I thought your hub was very interesting! Vote up! I love articles that make me use my noodle!

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Mom, Thank you for the visit and comment. I think going back to the basics would do the whole world some good. Greg

    • mom101 profile image

      mom101 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for a beautifully written and inspiring article. I agree, we could benefit in so many ways from those that were here before us.

      Greg, for the past couple of years I have had this feeling, (inner voice) uttering back to basics, and being a person who firmly believes in confirmation, I was a little more than scared the first time this message was "confirmed". Several times since has it been confirmed and each time solves part of the bigger picture. I know in my knower what it is that I am suppose to be doing, now for the hard part. Doing it.

      Thanks again for a well written hub.

      P.S. I know its late, but, this is the first hub I have read from you, and would like to say welcome to the hub. I know you will enjoy.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Phdast, Thank you for the visit and comment. The more I read about the indians, the more I understand them and their ways. Greg

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Very interesting. I was unfamiliar with this concept or approach, but it sounds like a very effective humanistic and community based way to reintegrate people into society.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Ahiah, Thank you for the visit and the comment. Trust me, it could teach most peple a lot. Greg

    • ahiah profile image

      ahiah 

      6 years ago

      Native American wisdom has taught me much.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Daniella, Thank you for the follow, visit, comment and vote. Yes, they are a very interesting people. Greg

    • Daniella Lopez profile image

      Danielle Lopez 

      6 years ago from Spain

      Very interesting hub. I've always found the Navajo to be a very interesting people. Voted up and interesting!

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Gypsy, Thank you for the visit and the comment. Yes, the indian has always fascinated me too and they have come a long way. Greg

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Tillson, Thank you for the visit, comment and vote. Yes, that i a good way to say it and we do need to look at our own inner spirit. Greg

      Yes Chip, That is the right way to say it. Greg

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      @tillstonian - finally . . . someone gets the saying right.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      "Never Judge A Man Until You've Walked Two Moons In His Moccasins" We can learn so much from the Indians. Our society has lost touch with the spirit - whether that be God or mother earth or whatever spiritual guidance you believe in - it is our inner spirit and morality. Uh oh, I'm going to start preaching, better get off that track. Your hub is really good and well written. Thanks Gregas. Voted up.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 

      6 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Indians have always fascinated me and let's not forget they have come so far. Today there are Indians who are real great business people and have their own businesses.It is great that they have not forgotten their traditions and rituals which they can still pass on to the next generations.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Always Exploring and Mackyi, Thank you both for the visits and comments. Yes, if we would just open hearts and listen we could learn a lot, no matter who is speaking or acting. Greg

    • profile image

      mackyi 

      6 years ago

      As the saying goes "listen to the dull and the ignorant because they too have their story." In other words, no matter how stupid or uneducated you may conceive another person to be, you can learn something from them, if you just listen to what they have to say!Suffice to say, I personally think we could learn a lot from the Indian,if we were more opened to their culture and beliefs.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I agree with you. We could learn a lot from the Indian..Thank you for a well written hub..

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Rachel, Thank you for the visit and the comment. It is really amazing what us so-called civilized people could learn from the so-called uncivilized people. Greg

    • Rachel Richmond profile image

      Rachel Richmond 

      6 years ago from California

      I forget which tribe and location maybe in Africa, but as I understand it..an entire village would get together and make a circle around the person who committed an act unbecoming of their values. The each person of the village would say something nice and compassionate about the person. The idea was to balance the person. Reminding them they are love and one. Great hub.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Angela, Thank you for the visit, comment and votes. The world could possibly be better if we had learned their ways instead of forcing them into ours. Greg

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      The teaching of many Indian tribes were "right on" and recipes for living successfully not only with one another but the earth itself. Great Hub - well written and excellent subject matter. UP! Best, Sis

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Chip, Thank you for the comment and the compliment. Yep, to me that's a good way to live. Andyes, a big change in DC is needed, and I hope the people of this country will see that this year. We really can't wait for another 4 years of "indecision". Greg

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 

      6 years ago from Space Coast

      Wow gregas. You can write, brother. What is that old Alice's Restaurant line? More than two is a movement.

      I worked with beyond "at risk" teens for ten years. I left Devereux to work with a state funded first time offender vocational program. It never got all the way off the ground before the regime changed and the funding was axed. Now I am freelance and the Florida politicians are squawking about rising crime rates and harsher laws. I have seen with my own eyes how the offender can become a leader in the right direction. It is not part of our system. Kick everyone out of Washington and let the First Nation have their seats back!

      Your richly worded article made me choke back a sob. You said, ". . . the absence of ambiguity, uncertainty and indecision." That is my new goal.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi Jen, Thank you for the visit, comment and vote. The Native Americans are, and always have been, a very proud people. Every one I have ever met holds that pride. Greg

    • profile image

      jenubouka 

      6 years ago

      Hi gregas,

      I 100% agree with you and this article, to me, was a bounty of truth and sadness.

      Truth because we do not offer "rehabilitation" and only demean people who have done wrong, not enhance any good inside them. Even for the "hardened" criminal I believe they need to be given proper guidance to a better life. For the ones that are not able to understand right from wrong, then a safe environment, hospital per say rather than a cell to protect them and others.

      I feel sadness for the lack of respect for the Native Americans and they may lack "western" education but the defy human integrity bar none.

      Beautiful, awesome, interesting Gregas.

    • gregas profile imageAUTHOR

      Greg Schweizer 

      6 years ago from Corona, California.

      Hi W20, Thank you for the visit, comment and vote. Greg

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Great hub. Voted up and interesting.

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