Sheila Goldtooth

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Sheila Goldtooth teaches Navajo culture and philosophy at Dine College in Chinle, Arizona. She also works as a traditional healer for the Navajo Nation. Her interest in healing began at a very young age when she saw her uncle do the work. She apprenticed with him and now performs ceremonies and blessings for people to help bring them back into balance and harmony, particularly for young people who struggle to balance the pressures and competing demands of western and Navajo societies.

“Having a hogan with a dirt floor, no running water, no electricity – that’s being wealthy – because you’re as close to mother earth as you can be.”

I work with mothers, fathers and grandparents that are struggling with youth. Sometimes we don’t give the person time to explain the situation. As a practitioner who works with youth, I’ve seen that they just need somebody to listen to them and not prejudge them or make assumptions. A lot of times, before the child could finish a sentence, Mom or Dad jumps in, and cuts the child off. They don’t allow the child to have their say.

The children feel like they’re not respected. That’s when all these other things start to happen. They start to get defiant. They feel they’re not important, not loved. They don’t feel like they’re a part of whatever is going on. They don’t have the opportunity to really express themselves and be able to say what they want to say. That’s where they start to rebel.

In our culture everything is alive and sacred to us, whether it be the rock, soil, air, wind, animals, insects, reptiles, and so forth. Everything has a purpose for living on this earth and we have mutual respect for everything that exists. Being in peace basically means being in harmony with everything that exists in Mother Earth and Father Sky.

Scenes near Chinle, Arizona

Sheila Goldtooth full podcast

Discussion Questions

  • How do you define being wealthy? Do you consider yourself wealthy?
  • How do you make sense of Sheila’s explanation of not having any enemies? Who are your enemies? Why are they your enemies?
  • Are you more of a verbal processor or a silent processor? Does it help you if someone is willing to listen?
  • How often do you have the opportunity to express yourself? How has having that opportunity or not having that opportunity effected you?
  • How do you approach conflict? When has that approach worked and when has it not worked?

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