Encyclopedia Article


The two most common ceremonials in the Navajo religion are the Blessingway (Hózhójí) and the Enemyway (‘Anaaʼjí). While the Blessingway is often sung over individuals to ensure good luck and blessings, the Enemyway is sung in order to protect Navajos from harmful ghosts of slain warriors, or in more contemporary parlance, to protect Navajos from the deleterious effects of non-Native influences. This ceremonial can be used for returning military personnel to rid them of the harmful effects of evil spirits, or chindi, of the slain, as well as the associated harmful effects of modernity both on and off the reservation. Leland Wyman defined the Enemyway as a ritual used to “…exorcise the ghosts of aliens, [which] makes much of war, violence, and ugliness; in fact it belongs in a native category of ceremonials usually translated as Evilway” (1983).

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