Navajo Ghost Illness

This article focuses on the beliefs of the Native American tribe, the Navajo. According to folklore, there was a prehistoric group of people who existed before the Navajo called Anasazi, and these people were killed due to the wind spirits. The reason why they were killed are not known for sure, but many believe that it was trespasses committed against nature. What exactly this defines is unknown. However, the Navajo believe that the remains of this ancient group of people are still inhabited by the spirits that killed them, indicating that these grounds are sacred. Since the Navajo believe that no one should disrupt the dead, exposure to any of these spirits would leave the individual vulnerable to this “Ghost sickness”. The Navajo’s believe that this sickness is caused by these wind spirits for disturbing the grounds on which the dead has been disrupted, but the disease itself is characterized biologically by anything that causes one to have any misfortunes whether physically or non-physically. Therefore, Navajo refuse to disrupt any sort of object that may have to do with the Anasazi, especially disrupting anything that has to do with disturbing the dead. In order for archaeologists to observe artifacts and other objects from the Anasazi group, Navajo figures must perform religious rituals on the archaeologist or anyone who wishes to do any sort of research. These rituals are used to protect the investigator against any sort of spirit that may cause harm during their project. Therefore, there is no western medicine cure for this disease. In fact, the only way to cure this illnesses is through the rituals that are performed by the religious figures. The argument on whether this illnesses is viable continues today. Many believe that this is a psychological disorder, but others continue to believe that this is a real illness among these people. Rush S. Fred, Stanley A. Fred, “Ghost Illness in a North Indian Villiage”, Social Science Medicine 30 (1990): 617-623.

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