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Contemporary Usage of the Blessingway Ceremony for Navajo Births

This ethnographic study investigates the frequency of use of the Navajo Blessingway ceremony during pregnancy by Navajo women in the Fort Defiance Service Unit of Indian Health Service. Through interviews with postpartum women and community members it was found that approximately 14% of the Navajo women at this hospital had a Blessingway ceremony during their current pregnancy. The data indicate that contemporary usage of the Blessingway ceremony is much less frequent than with previous generations.

Factors contributing to this decline include a: decrease in the use of Navajo language, decreased number of practicing medicine men, increased reliance on Christian religions practices, influence of Western education and health care practices and changing socioeconomic conditions.

The most significant factor in encouraging pregnant women to use this beneficial ceremony was the influence of the extended family.


Maureen Hartle-Schutte


Ofelia Zepeda





Arizona State Museum: 

M9791 H37c


ATT 1333236
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences