Template Graphic

Inthis Section


from Perry Robinson

Most people have times in their life when depression causes their world to turn dark and sad, creates a feeling of hopelessness, and offers no clear or easy way out of a seemingly impossible situation. Native American populations are one-and-a-half times more likely to have these feelings and twice as often struggle with PTSD as the general population. Perry Robinson offers a teaching that explains how this first happened to the Navajo and gives some suggestions as to what might be done to overcome it.

When White Shell Woman had completed many of her tasks in organizing this world, she felt it was time to depart and let the Navajo people begin to have their own experiences.She took with her many people, plants, and animals that wanted to accompany her, but there were still those who were left behind.At first, life seemed good, but as the days rolled on the people began to notice how things had changed.They felt lonely and the world became a place of worry and stress; the joy of daily life had gone.White Shell Woman was no longer there to answer questions and give guidance, familiar animals had gone, and what had brought happiness like the thunder that signaled rain was now frightening.The people tried to feel good about their life, but tears filled their eyes and crying drew them ever deeper toward sadness.The hollow feeling of fear and belief that something was going to harm them filled their thoughts.

The people met and decided what they needed more than anything was the return of White Shell Woman, but they also realized that as a holy person, she could not remain with them forever. A woman (human) who spoke for the clans, The One Who Talks a Lot, volunteered to go and see her elder sister (WSW) to find out what could be done.After visiting White Shell Woman, those Navajos who had left with her decided to return to their lands and the four sacred mountains, while visiting other people along the way.From these travels and different experiences came the origin of twelve clans, who brought new ways of thinking and doing things.Once all were united and prayed together White Shell Woman appeared to help them solve their problem.She went to the mountains in each of the four directions where she identified a stone, a bird, and a plant to assist the people.The four different stones, when crushed and mixed, became an offering; the four plants, when combined became sacred tobacco; and the songs of the birds brought emotional healing and happiness.White Shell Woman would soon have to depart, but left these sacred things behind to help. The people now knew what to do to find happiness.Before departing, she told them: “The gods are here.You are the one to make your life how you will want it to be.You will choose to either succeed or not.When problems happen—go to the mountains, pray, and make offerings.What you pray about will come to you.”

The holy people have set the pattern to help each of us overcome our difficult times.One of the first things we can do is to talk and counsel with those who share our concerns.Just as the people gathered together and discussed ways to solve problems to change how they felt, we need to recognize that there are those who understand what is needed and how to best assist.There are also physical things that are available, such as the four plants that comprise sacred tobacco used to clear our minds and connect us to spiritual power greater than our own.Prayer, when directed towards those powers, opens a mind to healing thoughts and the assistance of spiritual forces that can direct us on a different path and away from those things that sadden us.Offerings, whether to the holy people or in service to others, often lifts us away from our own concerns and directs our energy to bless lives, thus healing us while helping others.White Shell Woman counseled that the gods are here and that we have the responsibility to choose to either walk with or away from them—we need to invite them to be with us in order to obtain their help.

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