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The Healing Properties of Navajo Ceremonies

Navajo ceremonies work at multiple levels and use a variety of methods to heal the mind and the body. The use of mind states to heal our bodies (mind-body medicine or “psychoneuroimmunology”) through chant, prayer, and guided imagery are implemented. These practices are similar to Eastern meditation practices and have been shown to change how the brain functions (neuroplasticity).

The Navajo approach to keeping the physical body strong will also be discussed. Many elements of how native people lived traditionally contain natural examples of how to keep the body healthy and strong, and traditional foods have also played a role in keeping the body healthy.

The role of Native spirituality, which works as a background matrix to bring together and individuals and community, also connects the human community with the natural world. Subsistence living philosophies are also woven into ceremony teachings. The teachings in ceremonies are examples of how interconnection can promote sustainability theory, and teach humans a way of living that honors and protects our natural world.


Dr. Alvord is a member of the Navajo Tribe, and of the Tsinnajinnie (Ponderosa Pine) and Ashi’hii’ Dine’ (Salt) clans, and was raised in Crownpoint, New Mexico. “The Scalpel and the Silver Bear” (Bantam, 1999), her autobiography, tells the story of her journey from the reservation to become a surgeon and her work to combine Navajo philosophies of healing with western medicine.

Dr. Alvord is currently the Chief of Surgery at Banner Page Hospital, Page, AZ. and Associate Faculty at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for American Indian Health, Blatimore, MD.

The Glen Canyon Lecture Series is made possible through a partnership between Glen Canyon Natural History Association, the John Wesley Powell Museum and the Page Public Library. Lectures are free to the public and supported by grants and donations. Thank you for supporting your public programs.

Earlier Event: November 12
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Later Event: November 18
Shaman's Star Party