David was born in 1926, on a Navajo reservation in Arizona, a southwestern state in the U.S. Because the authorities wouldn't accept his clan name, Bitter Water, they gave him the name of the nearest landmark, the Paladin Mesa. His mother was a Navajo and his father a Caucasian Roman Catholic priest. At birth, he mother left him in the care of his extended family at the reservation and went off to become a nursing nun. Thus he was raised by tribal people who still talked to spirits and walked in their dreams.
He retrieved his spirit.
He became a shaman, a healer, a teacher and an artist. He eventually regained use of both legs and was able to walk without crutches. He died in 1984 at 58 years old.