The yucca has many uses to native people of the Southwest.
Fiber from the narrow-leafed yucca is used for sewing or for
ceremonial purposes such as by the Navajos in making hoops,
prayer sticks and chant arrows. The juice from the plant is
also used to make paint for ceremonial pipes.
Yucca also has a medicinal use. The roots are soaked in water
and the liquid is given to a woman having a long, hard childbirth.
Yucca is used to wash wool and as an ingredient in several dyes.
An arrow poisons is made with yucca juice mixed with charcoal
from a pinyon or juniper tree that has been struck by lightning.
The fruit from the yucca can be roasted, eaten raw or sliced
and dried for the winter. The crushed fruit can be used to
make cheese using goat's milk. The flower buds are also edible
if they are roasted. The leaves can be boiled with salt and eaten.
Probably the most well-known use of the yucca is for making shampoo.
The shampoo is made from the root by first cracking off the bark
to expose the white, fibrous root. In a bowl, the water is splashed
over the cleaned root producing a thick white lather. The root is
rubbed like a bar of soap and continues to produce more lather.
The sudsy water is worked into the hair, then rinsed clean. The
Navajo people say yucca makes hair shiny and grow longer.
A yucca shampoo is also used for ceremonial purposes such as in
a bath of yucca suds for patients as well as the healer in ceremonies.