Readings & Materials

Learn more about Diné experiences with disease, healing, and health from different generations. If you come across more sources, please share with Farina King to be added to this developing list and bibliography.


Allison-Burbank, Joshua, Emily E. Haroz, Allison Ingalls, Crystal Kee, Lisa Martin, Kristin Masten, Tara Maudrie, and Victoria O’Keefe. Illustrated by Joelle Joyner. Our smallest warriors, our strongest medicine: Overcoming COVID-19. Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, IASC, 2020.

Alvord, Lori and Elizabeth Cohen Van Pelt. The Scalpel and the Silver Bear: The First Navajo Woman Surgeon Combines Western Medicine and Traditional Healing. New York: Bantam Books, 2000.

Aronilth, Wilson, Jr. Diné Bi Bee Ohoo’aah Ba’Sila: An Introduction to Navajo
Philosophy. Many Farms, Arizona: Diné Community College Press, 1994.

Aronilth, Wilson, Jr. Foundation of Navajo Culture. Tsaile, Arizona: Navajo Community College, 1992.

Benally, Malcolm. Bitter Water: Diné Oral Histories of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2011.

Bighorse, Tiana, Nöel Bennett, and Barry Lopez. Bighorse the Warrior. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994.

Blue, Martha. The Witch Purge of 1878: Oral and Documentary History in the Early Navajo Reservation Years. Tsaile, Arizona: Navajo Community College Press, 1988.

Boyce, George Arthur. When Navajos Had Too Many Sheep: The 1940’s. San Francisco, California: The Indian Historian Press, 1974.

Brugge, Doug, Timothy Benally, and Esther Yazzie-Lewis. The Navajo People and Uranium Mining. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

Chamberlain, Kathleen P. Under Sacred Ground: A History of Navajo Oil, 1922-1982. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000.

Davies, Wade. Healing Ways: Navajo Health Care in the Twentieth Century. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2009.

DeJong, David H. “If You Knew the Conditions”: A Chronicle of the Indian Medical Service and American Indian Health Care, 1908-1955. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2008.

DeJong, David H. Plagues, Politics, and Policy: A Chronicle of the Indian Health Service, 1955-2008. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2011.

Denetdale, Jennifer. Reclaiming Diné History: The Legacies of Navajo Chief Manuelito and Juanita. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.

Deyhle, Donna. Reflections in Place: Connected Lives of Navajo Women. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009.

Elliott, Erica M. and Joan Borysenko. Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert: My Life Among the Navajo People. Bloomington, IN: Balboa Press, 2019.

Farella, John R. The Main Stalk: A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1984.

Fox, Sarah Alisabeth. Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2014.

Frisbie, Charlotte J. Food Sovereignty the Navajo Way: Cooking with Tall Woman. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2018.

Gill, S.D. Sacred Words: A Study of Navajo Religion and Prayer: Contributions in Intercultural and Comparative Studies. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1981.

Hadley, Linda and Roger Hathale. Hózhǫ́ǫ́jí hane: Blessingway. Rough Rock, Arizona: Rough Rock Demonstration School, 1986.

Halpern, Katherine Spencer and Susan Brown McGreevy. Washington Matthews: Studies of Navajo Culture, 1880-1894. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997.

Hartog, Cocia. Indian Mission Sketches: Descriptions and Views of Navajo Life in the Rehoboth Mission School and Stations, Tohatchi and Zuni. Gallup. New Mexico: Self-published, 1910-1911.

Holiday, John and Robert S. McPherson. A Navajo Legacy: The Life and Teachings of John Holiday. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005.

Iverson, Peter. Diné: A History of the Navajos. Albuquerque, New Mexico: University of New Mexico Press, 2002.

Joe, Jennie R. and Robert S. Young, eds. Diabetes as a Disease of Civilization: The Impact of Culture Change on Indigenous Peoples. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1993.

Kelly, Lawrence C. The Navajo Indians and Federal Indian Policy, 1900-1935. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1968.

Kelley, Klara and Harris Francis. A Diné History of Navajoland. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2019.

King, Farina. The Earth Memory Compass: Diné Landscapes and Education in the Twentieth Century. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2018.

Kristofic, Jim. Medicine Women: The Story of the First Native American Nursing School. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2019.

Kunitz, Stephen. Disease Change and the Role of Medicine: The Navajo Experience (Comparative Studies of Health Systems and Medical Care). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. First edition.

Lee, Lloyd L., ed. Diné Perspectives: Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2014.

Lee, Lloyd L., ed. Navajo Sovereignty: Understandings and Visions of the Diné People. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2017.

Locke, Raymond Friday. The Book of the Navajo. New York: Holloway House
Publishing, 2001.

McCloskey, Joanne. Living Through the Generations: Continuity and Change in Navajo Women’s Lives. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.

McPherson, Robert S. Dinéjí Na’nitin: Navajo Traditional Teachings and History. University of Colorado Press, 2012.

McPherson, Robert S. Navajo Land, Navajo Culture: The Utah Experience in the Twentieth Century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

McPherson, Robert S. Sacred Land, Sacred View: Navajo Perceptions of the Four Corners Region. Provo, Utah: Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, 1992.

Moss, Margaret P., ed. American Indian Health and Nursing. New York: Springer Publishing Company, 2015.

O’Neill, Colleen. Working the Navajo Way: Labor and Culture in the Twentieth Century. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2005.

Oshley, N. and Robert S. McPherson. The Journey of Navajo Oshley: An Autobiography and Life History. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2000.

Parman, Donald L. The Navajos and the New Deal. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1976.

Pasternak, Judy. Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed. New York: Free Press, 2010.

Rife, James P. and Alan J. Dellapenna. Caring and Curing: A History of the Indian Health Service. Terra Alta, West Virginia: PHS Commissioned Officers Foundation for the Advancement of Public Health, 2009.

Rhoades, Everett R., ed. American Indian Health Innovations in Health Care, Promotion, and Policy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Roessel, Robert A. Dinétah: Navajo History Vol. II. Rough Rock, Arizona: Navajo
Curriculum Center and Title IV-B Materials Development Project, Rough Rock Demonstration School, 1983.

Schwarz, Maureen Trudelle. Blood and Voice: Navajo Women Ceremonial Practitioners. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2003.

Schwarz, Maureen Trudelle. “I Choose Life”: Contemporary Medical and Religious Practices in the Navajo World. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008.

Schwarz, Maureen Trudelle. Molded in the Image of Changing Woman: Navajo Views on the Human Body and Personhood. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1997.

Schwarz, Maureen Trudelle. Navajo Lifeways: Contemporary Issues, Ancient Knowledge. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001.

Trennert, Robert A. White Man’s Medicine: Government Doctors and the Navajo, 1863-1955. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

Voyles, Traci Brynne. Wastelanding: Legacies of Uranium Mining in Navajo Country. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015.

Weisiger, Marsha. Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009.

White, Richard. The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988.

Witherspoon, Gary. Language and Art in the Navajo Universe. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1977.

Wyman, Leland Clifton and Bernard Haile. Blessingway. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1970.


Begay, R. Cruz. “Changes in Childbirth Knowledge.” American Indian Quarterly 28, no. 3 (Summer 2004): 550-565.

Begay, R. Cruz. “Navajo Birth: A Bridge Between the Past and the Future.” In Childbirth Across Cultures: Ideas and Practices of Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Postpartum, eds. Helaine Selin and Pamela Kendall Stone, 245-253. London: Springer, 2009.

Brady, Benjamin R. and Howard M. Bahr. “The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1920 among the Navajos: Marginality, Mortality, and the Implications of Some Neglected Eyewitness Accounts.” American Indian Quarterly Vol. 38, No. 4 (Fall 2014): 459-491.

Colmant, Stephen A. and Rod J. Merta. “Using the Sweat Lodge Ceremony as Group Therapy for Navajo Youth.” Journal for Specialists in Group Work Vol. 24, No. 1 (March 1999): 55-73.

Coulehan, John L. “Navajo Indian Medicine: Implications for Healing.” The Journal of Family Practice, Vol. 10, No. 1 (1980): 55-61.

Csordas, Thomas J. “The Navajo Healing Project.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 4, Theme Issue: Ritual Healing in Navajo Society, December 2000, pp. 463-475,

Curley, Andrew. “Unsettling Indian Water Settlements: The Little Colorado River, the San Juan River, and Colonial Enclosures,” Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography, published online April 15, 2019.

Hoskie, Anderson. “Hataal: Navajo Healing System.” Leading the Way: The Wisdom of the Navajo People 11, no. 6 (June 2013): 2-4.

Joe, Jennie R., Robert S. Young, Jill Moses, Ursula Knoki-Wilson, and Johnson Dennison. “At the Bedside: Traditional Navajo Practitioners in a Patient-Centered Health Care Model.” American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 28-49.

Joe, Jennie R., Jacquetta Swift, and Robert S. Young. “The Rationing of Healthcare and Health Disparity For the American Indians/Alaska Natives.” In Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on Understanding and Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care; Smedley BD, Stith AY, Nelson AR, editors. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 2003.

Jones, David S. “The Health Care Experiments at Many Farms: The Navajo, Tuberculosis, and the Limits of Modern Medicine, 1952-1962.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76, No. 4 (2002): 749-790.

Kim, Catherine and Yeong S. Kwok. “Navajo Use of Native Healers.” JAMA Internal Medicine. November 9, 1998.

Lesnes, Corine. “En terres Navajo, la médecine ‘aux mains qui tremblent.’ Le Monde, August 10, 2019.

Levy, Jerrold E. “Traditional Navajo Health Beliefs and Practices.” In Disease Change and the Role of Medicine: The Navajo Experience, ed. Stephen J. Kunitz, 119. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

Ostler, Jeffrey. “Disease Has Never Been Just Disease for Native Americans.” The Atlantic (April 29, 2020).

Raitt, Thomas M. “The Ritual Meaning of Corn Pollen among the Navajo Indians.” Religious Studies 23, no. 4 (December 1987): 523-530.

Reagan, Albert B. “The ‘Flu’ among the Navajos.” Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science Vol. 30 (April 1919-February 1921): 131-138.

Rhoades, Everett R. “The Indian Health Service and Traditional Indian Medicine.” In “History of Medicine” (October 2009), AMA Journal of Ethics: Illuminating the Art of Medicine.

Storck, M., T.J. Csordas, and M. Strauss. “Depressive Illness and Navajo Healing.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, December 2000, 14 (4): 571-597. Access online.

Torpy, Sally J. “Native American Women and Coerced Sterilization: On the Trail of Tears in the 1970s.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 24, no. 2 (2000): 1-22.

Tusatto, Robert, Terrie C. Reeves, W. Jack Duncan, and Peter M. Ginter. “Indian Health Service: Creating a Climate for Change.” In Public Health: Leadership and Management Cases and Context, edited by Stuart A. Capper, Peter M. Ginter, Linda E. Swayne. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, 2001, p. 265.


Capelin, Emily Fay. “The Source of the Sacred: Navajo Corn Pollen: Hááne’
Baadahoste’ígíí (Very Sacred Story).” Senior thesis, The Colorado College, 2009.

Jones, Rachelle Geri. “Maintaining Hózhó: Perceptions of Physical Activity, Physical Education and Healthy Living Among Navajo High School Students.” Ph.D. Dissertation, Arizona State University, 2015.

Leonard, Leland. “The Relationship Between Navajo Adolescents’ Knowledge and Attitude of Navajo Culture and Their Self-Esteem and Resiliency.” Ed.D. dissertation, Arizona State University, 2008.

Long, Valerie E. “An Assessment of a Video on the Link Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease to Educate Native American Populations.” University of New Mexico, 2019.

Theobald, Brianna. “The Simplest Rules of Motherhood”: Settler Colonialism and the Regulation of American Indian Reproduction, 1910-1976.” Arizona State University, 2015.

Wick, John W. “An Analysis of the Shamanistic Healing Practices of the Navajo American Indians through Mircea Eliades’s Theories of Time, Space and Ritual.” Trinity College, 2013.

Yazzie, Elerina. “Protection of Navajo Sacred Objects.” M.A. thesis, University of Kansas, 2008.

Yazzie, Melanie. “Contesting Liberalism, Refusing Death: A Biopolitical Critique of Navajo History.” University of New Mexico, 2016.


McCloskey J. (2004) Navajo. In: Ember C.R., Ember M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology. Springer, Boston, MA.

Smith, Tommy. “The Church Rock Uranium Mill Spill.” In Environment & Society Portal.


Begody, Candace. “Pay the price: Despite cultural concerns, Native women help change the face of medicine,” Navajo Times, March 19, 2009.

Blackwood, Alisa. “Navajo Nation Hopes to Revive Traditional Medicine,” Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1999.

Diné Elders, Medicine People at odds with Navajo Nation,” Arizona Daily Independent, June 24, 2014.

Donovan, Bill. “50 Years Ago: First Diné Doctor Hired,” Navajo Times, November 26, 2014.

Donovan, Bill. “Fake Healers Plague Navajo Nation,” High Country News, October 13, 1997.

Eisen, Erica X. “Indigenous Activists Are Reimagining Language Preservation Under Quarantine.” Slate, August 10, 2020.

Estes, Nick. “The Empire of All Maladies: Colonial Contagions and Indigenous Resistance.” The Baffler No. 52 (July 2020).

Innes, Stephanie. “The Navajo Nation has a cancer clinic, a tribal first.” AZCentral, The Republic, September 19, 2019.

Lynch, Karen. “Working to heal wounds of boarding school: United Nations panel hopes to undo the damage caused by U.S. government’s Indian boarding school policies.” The Native, 2004, accessed 21 August 2015.

Quintero, Donovan. “A history of epidemics: In past, Navajos survived many epidemics. Spanish flu, virus pose danger.” Navajo Times, April 19, 2020.

Perry, Leonard, ed. “Crownpoint New Mexico: Past and Present as viewed through the Crownpoint Baahane’ Newsletter” (Volume 1), self-published, 2009-2011.

Pressley, Sue Ann. “Navajo Healers Convene.” The Washington Post, June 4, 1993.

Saltzstein, Kate. “Navajo doctor blends tradition in practice.” Native Sun News, November 15, 2011.

Sullivan, Meghan. “Students use ‘power of storytelling’ to highlight health inequities.” Indian Country Today, August 7, 2020.

Theobald, Brianna. “A 1970 Law Led to the Mass Sterilization of Native American Women. That History Still Matters.” Time. January 2, 2020.

Wulfhorst, Ellen. “Father-son Navajo Indians draw on violent pasts to teach healing.” Thomas Reuters Foundation, June 24, 2016.

Yurth, Cindy. “EPA admin: Gold King Spill ‘Heartbreaking.’” Navajo Times (Durango, Colorado), August 13, 2015.


Adams, Mikaëla M. “Social Distancing in the Age of Assimilation: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920 in Indian Country,”April 16, 2020, #COVIDintheSouth, Center for the Study of the American South.

Anguiano, Viviann. “The Navajo Nation’s Diné College Faces the Worst Coronavirus Outbreak in the Country,” Center for American Progress, May 21, 2020.

Benally, Hoskie. “A Sacred Relationship.” In Circle of Stories, Public Broadcasting Service.

Chur, Elizabeth. “‘You Will Become Well’: Delivering Patient Care in the Navajo Nation,” June 15, 2015, UCSF School of Medicine.

Cozort, Daniel. “Healing: A Navajo Perspective.”

Flaherty, Julie. “For This Navajo Doctor, Listening is Medicine: Michael Tutt, M88, employs traditional and Western practices to heal his community.” TuftsNow, August 15, 2019.

Kahn-John, Michelle. “The Healing Power of Ceremony: The Integrative Health Benefits of Diné Cleansing Practice.” July 18, 2017, “The Health Dose: Updates from the experts at UArizona Health Sciences.”

Jennings, Trip. “Remembering the largest radioactive spill in U.S. history,” New Mexico In Depth, July 7, 2014.

Keene, Adrienne. “Sweat Lodges Part II: No, you can’t. Here’s why.” Native Appropriations.

Yellow Bird, Michael. “Decolonizing Coronavirus: Returning to Traditional Indigenous Prevention Strategies in the time of COVID-19,” Healing Voices Blog, National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, April 9, 2020.

Manueltio, Lacy. “My Struggles with Becoming a Diné Pediatrician,” AM Rounds, June 26, 2018.

Robinson, Perry. “Navajo and Western Medicine.”


American Indian Studies, Labriola National American Indian Data Center, Arizona State University.

Indigenous Governance Database, Native Nations Institute, University of Arizona.

Native American Health, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona.

Native Health Database Full Text, Digital Repository, University of New Mexico.

Navajo Reservation Cultural Immersion- NUR/HS 4SG: Navajo Healing & Health Issues, Ashland University.

Radical Hope Syllabus, environmental history and climate change, 2018.

“Tommy Rock – Exposing Years of Uranium Water Contamination in a Navajo Community,” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, January 9, 2017.


Adams, Beth with Brianna Theobald. “‘Reproduction on the Reservation’ tells history of forced sterilizations of Native Americans,” WBFO, NPR, October 29, 2019.

Benallie, Brandon. “Navajo Nation responds to COVID-19 with mutual aid,” Peoples Dispatch, April 30, 2020.

Bichell, Rae Ellen. “Pandemic Complicates Tribes’ Quest For Data Sovereignty,” Mountain West News Bureau,, July 13, 2020.

Changing Winds: Public Health and Indian Country, David J. Sencer CDC Museum, In Association with the Smithsonian Institution.

Chief, Karletta. “2019 SACNAS Featured Speaker: Dr. Karletta Chief (Diné),” December 17, 2019 posted on, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Chief, Karletta. “Protecting the Waterways of the Navajo Nation,” Science Friday.

“COVID-19 in Racial and Ethnic Minority Groups,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fox, Sarah Alisabeth. “Stories from Downwind: A People’s History of the Nuclear West.” Fairhaven College, WWU, 2016. See also Fox’s presentation for the Utah Archives Month 2015 at the Utah State Archives. Learn more on her Downwind website.

Sarah Alisabeth Fox: “Stories from Downwind”

Golden, Sherita Hill. “Coronavirus in African Americans and Other People of Color,” Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Ingram, Jani. “SACNAS Biography: Dr. Jani Ingram,” February 5, 2014 posted on

In the Navajo Nation, a Focus on Health Data,” April 20, 2016, PCORI.

Knoki-Wilson, Ursula. “Keeping the Sacred in Childbirth Practices: Integrating Navajo Cultural Aspects into Obstetric Care.”

“Mikaela Adams on ‘Influenza in Indian Country,'” April 22, 2020, “Social Distancing Lecture Series: Historical Perspectives on Sickness and Health,” sponsored by the Department of History at Davidson College.

NABS 2019 Webinar Series Episode 5, “Historical Trauma and Healing,” Featuring Roberta Paul (Nez Perce), Retired Director of Native American Health Sciences at Washington State University Spokane, June 6, 2019.

NABS 2019 Webinar Series Episode 6, “Mindful Decolonization, Healthy Ancestral Lifestyles, and the Medicine Wheel,” Featuring Dr. Michael Yellow Bird (Three Affiliated Tribes), Dean and Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba, August 8, 2019.

Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness,” U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Navajo Wellness Model: Keeping the Cultural Teachings Alive to Improve Health,” by Marie Nelson, January 4, 2018, Indian Health Service.

Navajo Epidemiology Center.

Powell, Catherine. Opinion, “Color of Covid: The racial justice paradox of our new stay-at-home economy,” CNN, April 18, 2020.

Skeets, Jake. “The Other House: Musings on the Diné Perspective of Time,” Emergence Magazine.

Smith, Phillip L. “Generations of Indigenous Women Healers,” 2019 NSU American Indian Symposium, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, video recording, April 12, 2019.

Teller, Terry. Daybreakwarrior on

Todd, Jenna. “The Medical Accomplishments of Annie Dodge Wauneka.” Annie Wauneka Presentation_Todd

Stumpff, Linda Moon. “Hantavirus and the Navajo Nation: A Double Jeopardy Disease.”

The Navajo Culture,” Multicultural Topics in Communications Sciences and Disorders, Portland State University.

“Water River Life-Giver: Water Crisis for the Navajo and other vulnerable peoples,” featuring Jonathan Nez, Janene Yazzie, Tommy Rock, Duane “Chili” Yazzie, and Barry Lampke, Dartmouth College, April 29, 2016.

Yazzie, Melanie. “Native people live under a constant threat of settler-colonialism,” Peoples Dispatch, April 30, 2020.


Amá. A Film by Lorna Tucker, 2018.

A New Hantavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1993.

Broken Rainbow. Distributed by New Video Group, 2006. 70 minutes.

Circle of Stories: Native American Stories From the Four Directions. Produced by Philomath Films and the Cultural Conservancy; producers, directors, editors, Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Media, 2012. 51 minutes.

Dineh Nation: The Navajo Story. Produced by Russell Richards, 1992. 26 minutes.

Exercising Safe Sweats., 2020.

“Exercise Safe Sweats”

Hear Our Voices, 2004—a documentary short confronting issues with uranium mining by students of Monument Valley High School.

Lady Warriors. Produced by Corbis Documentaries, directed by John Goheen, 2002. 56 minutes

Shash Jaa’. Directed by Angelo Baca, 2016. 23 minutes.

REVERB: Coronavirus in Navajo Nation, Full Documentary, 2020.

The Return of Navajo Boy. Groundswell Educational Films, 2016.

Yellow Fever: The Navajo Uranium Legacy. A Film by Sophie Rousmaniere, 2014.