Traditional Navajo Healing began thousands of years ago. The history behind the system is very complex and a lot of the information is not recorded in the records of history due to the fact that within the Navajo culture all of their ceremonial information is passed down each generation orally. However, there has been research done and since the 1800’s we have some documented information regarding Traditional Navajo Healing. Traditional healing was around even before the creation of the United States. The Navajo people thousands of years ago had to acclimate to their surroundings and their environment.  They incorporated religion, medical practices and life style into their culture thousands of years ago. Traditional Navajo Healing originated with the essential belief that the number one rule is to have the balance of harmony in life. The healing methods and beliefs are directly tied to the Diné origin story and the resulting practices stem from the origin story.
            In general, the
Diné had few medical concerns prior to the exposure to foreigners when the United States was formed. Prior to being exposed to the Europeans they did not suffer from influenza, typhoid, cholera, smallpox, and other imported diseases .They lived very active lives, ate foods high in fiber and nutritious value. There was not much need for medical attention, but this does not mean that they were completely disease free as a group of people. They did suffer from digestive problems, pneumonia, dysentery, eye problems and other ailments Their medical practices to address these problems were based on the Diné origin story and they had a holistic point of view. They focused on the individual as a whole and tried to restore balance to that person and to their people.
            Chronologically speaking we can see the evolution of Traditional Navajo Healing and how it has changed beginning from the 19th century towards the end of the 20th century. Beginning in 1864 the
Navajos were not trading in traditional beliefs, but Traditional healing dominated among Diné health care. This time period also is the same time that the Diné were forced out of their land and to Fort Sumner. They experienced the effects of the “Long Walk” at this time. The removal of the Diné sacred land had led to loss of herbs and other remedies from Diné Bikéyah. Many practitioners died from physical strains. This led to the loss of knowledge that the practitioners were not able to pass on to apprentices and possible future practitioners prior to their death. However, some singers and medicine men did survive.
            They continued with ceremonies and used them to counteract daily exposure with non-Indian ills and exposure to their own dead. During this time healers and herbalists devised new remedies to counteract syphilis and other new diseases that they encountered within Fort Sumner. But during this time period of 1864 through about 1930 Navajo healers were not recognized by Western Medicine practitioners even though in 1873 the Office of Indian affairs (later known as the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)) established education and medical division. This led to a BIA shift to try to connect healers and Western Medicine practitioners in the 1930’s although there was still opposition between groups and  a lack of acceptance of each other’s medical systems.
But it has been noted that during this period “For the first time, the BIA had thrown its official support behind Navajos efforts to seek the benefits of Traditional as well as Western Medicine.” (Davies; pp. 37)  This was an important stepping stone for Traditional Navajo Healing and its recognition by the BIA.
            Later on in the 1960’s Navajos believed that the traditional healing way would not survive. Then between 1968 and 1983 Navajo schools incorporated training new healers into programs. Navajo healing was at this time considered to be scientifically psychotherapeutic. In the 1970’s Navajos further looked for ways to preserve traditional ways and in 1978 the Medicine Mans Association (MMA) was formed. The MMA had then in turn committed itself to “develop new health care systems which combine the healing arts and skills of trained Navajo Healers and Medicine Men in conjunction with practitioners of Western Medical science and thereby improve the health and well-being of the Navajo people” (Davies; pp.150-151) During this time period the MMA persuaded the tribe to pass resolution protecting ceremonial objects for the well being of the tribe.
            This time period led into the 1980’s where Traditional Navajo Healing continued to struggle within the system itself because there were less medicine men and there were also signs of accelerating loss of culture and language among youth. The youth in this time period were torn between Native American culture and Anglo American culture. The younger generations slowly began to choose Anglo American culture as superior to Navajo Culture and in turn accepted Western Medical practices as well. The Navajo people needed to make a concrete effort in order to return to their traditions and language at this point in time. There was a loss of ceremonies and traditional practices in this time period through the early 1990’s and it was being accelerated as the Navajo people saw that only about 700 traditional practitioners where left. However, at this time period Traditional healing was included in basic medical health care plans in the United States which was a step forward for Traditional Navajo Medicine. Healers were reimbursed with money through medical providers because people were dissatisfied with Western Medicines treatment of chronic illness and turned to alternative medicine
            As the 1990’s progressed we saw more action within the Navajo people and in 1996 there was a turning point in history for Traditional Medicine. The Native American Grave Protection and Retention Act went into effect and the Navajo Nation regained possession of a prized ceremonial artifact called the Nightway Jish. This symbolized the
Diné effort to reclaim their ceremonies. The following year in 1997 the Tribal Council Education Committee worked with the MMA on plans for a tribe-sponsored apprentice healer training program. They officially began recruiting students in 1999. The history of Traditional Medicine went through its ups and downs, but through it all the traditions and beliefs endured even in the worst of times.
Key Practitioners:
The key practitioners in Traditional Navajo Healing included Medicine Men, Hand Tremblers, Singers and Herbalists. The Medicine Men where “Those who conduct the chantaway ceremonies and other rites are known as the hataatii, “singers,” also referred to as traditional healers or as “medicine men” although they are sometimes women.”(Davies; pp. 5) The Navajo healers were distinct because they did not gain any powers through visions. Their role was to act as a portal or facilitator between the patient and the Holy People so that the power could be transferred between them.  The most important fact about their traditions and their work as healers is that they make sure that they stay true to the fact that “The most central of all Navajo ceremonies, and one that is more focused on prevention than curing. By conducting this ceremony, the singers perform the same acts that the Holy People used to create the world and establish harmony.” (Davies; pp. 9)Hand Tremblers are also key Navajo diagnosticians. Their role is to diagnose the patients through a series of movements and changes with their specific skills. They draw on symbols and reactions through these practices to diagnose the patients. All of the ceremonies are also performed in a traditional Hogan on the dirt floor as the traditions call for. The Hand Trembler is the most common diagnostician. It is important to note that “Diagnosticians sometimes treat the illness themselves or suggest appropriate herbal remedies or chantways.” (Davies; pp. 7) For the herbal remedies a Herbalist is needed. The role of the herbalist is very important as we see that “Navajo “herbalists” specialized in administering herbal remedies and offered temporary relief to those awaiting ceremonial cures. Navajos also practiced home medicine and learned to use herbs, set bones, purify their bodies with sweat baths, and care for the immediate needs of the sick.” (Davies; pp. 12) It is also important to know that along with healers there is also people who use the ceremonies improperly to bring harm to peoples and this is referred to as witchcraft. If any ceremony is done with improper timing, intentions or misused intentionally it can inflict harm on others. The Navajo people are very alert about this and that is another reason why they can not reveal all of their ceremonies to outsiders because it would bring harm upon them or their people. 

Principles of Traditional Navajo Healing:
             In the past we saw that “From the point of birth to the moment of death, Navajos relied, and still rely, on nurturing, education, exercise, good diet, sweat baths, and herbal remedies to protect them from injury, to treat medical problems, and to ensure mental health.” (Davies; pp. 9) But we also know that in Navajo Traditional healing
“Navajos were willing to incorporate new healing ways when they proved medically effective and nonthreatening to traditional practices and beliefs.” (Davies; pp. 46) That is why through history the healing system has evolved and adjusted based on the circumstances of the people. But the constant principles that have remained throughout history in relation to tradition are that “Illness is manifested mentally or physically, or in both ways simultaneously, but the true cause is a disruption of harmony between them and their environment, These rules are handed down by the Holy People who learned from their own experiences how improper conduct can yield misfortune.” (Davies; pp. 5) The origin of this principle is from the Diné origin story. This is the key principle to their teachings and beliefs, and as we have seen through time “Healing and history are interwoven in the sings, and many healers take their roles as teachers and historians as seriously as their role as curers.” (Davies; pp. 8) Along with key principles there are also some ceremonies that are very important and they included the Nightway ceremony which is used to initiate Navajos into adulthood and the Blessingway rite which directly recognizes the knowledge of the origin story. It is said that “Every ceremony is connected to the origin story and the Blessingway because the Blessingway shows the importance of understanding the creation stories (Davies; pp. 9) the principled of Traditional Navajo Healings therefore directly tie back to the ultimate balance of harmony as was originally stated in the Diné origin story.