Defeating the Enemy Within

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Defeating the Enemy Within

from Perry Robinson

Monster Slayer and Born for Water made the world safe by killing monsters that were destroying the Navajo people. These evil creatures were born through excess, sexual impurity, and pride, each having their own qualities and strengths that gained control over the lives of others. The Twins, with the supernatural powers received from their father, Sun Bearer, and holy people met during their journey, were able to rid the earth of these vicious beings. As previously mentioned in the teaching about Old Age, four were allowed to remain. One of these was Poverty, who lives today to challenge the people, not only with physical needs but also internal thoughts. While there are many programs and agencies that provide free services and material goods, there are only a few willing to challenge the problem of self-control or lack of effort in attaining what people want to accomplish. Perry Robinson feels this is “one of today’s greatest enemies . . . we are enemy to ourselves” because we refuse to take responsibility for pushing ourselves. By blaming other people or circumstances, we become impoverished.”

Perry watched a Vietnam veteran sitting in a wheelchair across from him. The medicine man was performing the Enemy Way (Ana’í Ndáá’) to heal the man who had lost the use of his legs one day, long after the actual wounds had occurred. Suddenly he was wheelchair bound or dependent on crutches, requiring his son and others to carry out many of the functions he had been able to do for himself. The performance of the ceremony with its songs, prayers, and herbs were to help overcome this physical challenge by restoring mobility once again.

Still, there was more to it than just the ceremony. There were actually two different parts of the same force working against the veteran. The ceremony took care of only one of them. The experience that had harmed this individual and left physical disabilities were the most obvious—the one that Perry could work against with his healing practices. But the invisible one—what the man was feeling and thinking internally—also needed to be defeated. This second form of poverty required both people to work together to move the patient to health.

The medicine man spoke openly, telling the veteran that as a healer, he was working as hard as he could but that the wounded warrior was depending too heavily on what was taking place outside of him and not working on the inside to affect a cure. “I don’t see you pushing yourself but instead you expect your son to meet your needs. Try getting off that seat by yourself.You are strong inside; push yourself.” The man nodded and told his son to back off. Gathering his strength, he slowly pushed himself from the wheelchair and stood there tottering.“Good,” Perry said, “ now take a step.One step is good, but four is best. The patient began to slowly shuffle around the room and then moved to his chair. Perry was pleased. “That is what I want from you. Don’t sit there and think I am going to do all of the work. You are going to heal yourself, not me.”

By the end of the ceremony, the man had gotten up a second time, walked around the room, and then went outside under his own power. The “enemy” both inside and outside had been defeated. When explaining this experience, Perry commented, “The enemy comes in two different ways. Yes, there is an Enemy Way ceremony that we do, but at the same time, there is an enemy inside of you that doesn’t want to make you do things. That has to be overcome otherwise, it is beating you. Just like with this veteran who was suffering the effects of PTSD from events that happened long ago, the enemy has to be challenged. There will be things that will remind a person of what happened and have to be overcome to win the conflict inside. Each patient has to heal himself, or else the enemy is still there defeating him.Poverty comes from this type of thinking.”

I am Perry Robinson my clans is Edge Water born for Nakaii’dine. I am from Pinon Arizona born and raised there. I finished high school at Intermountain H.S. in Brigham City Utah in 1974 went to school in Utah State University for a year. I got inducted into military. I was in Marines for 4 years. Worked in construction, as a Boilermaker and iron worker for some years. I slowly worked my way back into schools to get licensed in counseling grandfathered in and a license to do traditional counseling- ceremony. I worked for Navajo Nation behavioral health for 25 years as a traditional practitioner. Retired last year. Started working with UNHS. Now as traditional consultant- practitioner.


Many articles in this section were adapted from, a website for Native Youth by Native Youth