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How Navajos navigate the complex world of medicine
Surgery, blood transfusions, CPR, and organ transplantation are common biomedical procedures for treating trauma and disease. But for Navajo Indians, these treatments can conflict with their traditional understanding of health and well-being. This book investigates how Navajos navigate their medically and religiously pluralistic world while coping with illness. Focusing on Navajo attitudes toward invasive procedures, Maureen Trudelle Schwarz reveals the ideological conflicts experienced by Navajo patients and the reasons behind the choices they make to promote their own health and healing.
Schwarz has conducted extensive interviews with patients, traditional herbalists and ceremonial practitioners, and members of Native American Church and Christian denominations to reveal the variety of perspectives toward biomedicine that prevail on the reservation and to show how each group within the tribe copes with health-related issues. She describes how Navajos interpret numerous health issues in terms of local understanding, drawing on both their own and biomedical or Christian traditions. She also provides insight into how Navajos use ceremonial practice and prayer to deal with the consequences of amputation or transplantation.