Man's beliefs pit military vs. Navajos
By Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 01/20/2007
Durango - Ronnie Tallman comes from a long line of Navajo spiritual leaders, but there also were soldiers among his kin.
At the age of 19, he decided to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers, joining the Marines in October 2004. Now he believes it was the wrong path, that his destiny lies in healing, not fighting.
The Navajo Nation and an organization of medicine men agree. The Marines do not, and now a federal court must decide a case that pits the spiritual beliefs of the Navajo against United States military rules. It started in November 2005 while Tallman was on weekend leave on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.
There, he says, he underwent a spiritual experience and discovered he had been given the gift of a sacred entity known as teehn leii, a rare form of spiritual diagnosing and healing celebrated among Navajos. Tallman is a hand trembler. While a simple definition is clouded in the translation from Navajo, hand tremblers are rare medicine men who can sense people's problems and illnesses and often restore physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Please see the updated story: Navajo Marine Given Conscientious-Objector Status