Native Americans believed in ghosts–spirits who were not at peace. This could happen because someone who died had not been at peace, personally. Unrest could also occur because a person was not buried properly or respectfully. Disturbing or desecrating a grave could also cause spirits to become active. The Navajo believed that restless ghosts would torment the living, causing “ghost sickness.” Ghost sickness caused nausea, fever, fatigue, nightmares, and other worrisome symptoms, as well as unexplained misfortune.
The best way to avoid ghost sickness is to first perform burial rituals properly, like obliterating footsteps from around a grave and disposing of the dead person’s belongings appropriately. After that, everyone should stay well away from burial grounds, since lingering ghosts who did not vent their anger on people at the time of their death can still do so once newcomers arrive. Some archeologists have hired Navajo religious figures to perform protective rituals (the Evil Way or Enemy Way when disturbance was through non-Navajo means) when burial grounds are disturbed.
Ghost beads are another way to protect a person from ghosts. These are made from juniper berries after ants have nibbled off one end and eaten the inside of the berry. The berries are dry, and may be preserved further by smoking them. A person then makes a hole in the other end of each berry and strings them together. Because these beads create an interconnection between the earth, people, trees, and animals, they can bring peace and protection to the wearer.