Encyclopedia of the Southwest

Tony Hillerman's works are replete with vibrant images of the Southwest. This small encyclopedia provides insights into many of the cultural, historical, geographical, and natural concepts mentioned in his works. The purpose of this encyclopedia is to introduce southwestern concepts to students who may not be familiar with this region of the United States and provide further literary context to scholars of Hillerman’s life and work, the Southwest region, and Southwestern and genre literatures. Researchers, students, and general readers can access term definitions and literary, historical, and cultural resources regarding the Southwest and Native American cultures and traditions. Additional ethnographic information pertinent to individual manuscripts can be accessed through the interactive manuscript viewer. Several of Hillerman’s manuscripts are hyperlinked to the Encyclopedia of the Southwest, making its content, including pictures, videos, and written definitions, available to readers.

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A popular pistol that is known for its high accuracy in precision shooting. The .22 refers to the barrel's internal diameter, or the diameter of the bullet's cartridge...

A rifle popular due to its relatively low cost, minimal recoil, and low noise level. The .22 refers to the caliber, or internal diameter, of the barrel of the rifle, as...

The Remington Model 700, a centerfire bolt action rifle which began production in 1962. The most popular types of ammunition for this rifle are the .30-60 Springfield...

A rifle that shoots a 30-gauge, or calibre, bullet that was oiringally packed and fired with 30 grains of gun powder. In general, a .30-30 rifle is effective at killing...

Sometimes known as a .38 special, this caliber of gun can be found with either a revolving or a semi-automatic firing mechanism. In addition, the bullets fired from...

A

The people known as Zunis call themselves A'shiwi, which translates to "the flesh people." The A'shiwi speak the language isolate called Zuni, and have maintained...

A small village in Northern New Mexico, located about 50 miles north of Santa Fe. The area surrounding the village is known for its striking beauty and unique and...

A rough scrape caused by rubbing or grinding an object against the skin, resulting in an inflamed sore spot. The term abrasive refers to a substance, like sand, that...

The release from guilt and associated punishment. Sometimes, but not always, associated with forgiveness.

An abbreviated summary of the main points of a long article or report, generally found at the beginning of the work. Increasingly, abstracts are also included in online...

A term meant to indicate inclusion within the history,traditions, and protocols of Academia, otherwise known as the university system of intellectual and cultural...

The Achilles is a long, thick band of tissue connecting the heel of the foot with the calf muscles. Located at the back of the ankle, right above the heel, this tendon...

A general antibiotic medication that is commonly used to treat a variety of bacterial infections.

Acoma Pueblo is a community built on top of a mesa in the Rio Grande Valley. At the end of the 16th century it was an area of tension between the Pueblo people and the...

Acoma has been translated into English as both the "people of the white rock" as well as "a place always prepared." The Acoma are descended from Anasazi and earlier...

Acoma is both the name of a pueblo group who reside in western New Mexico and the name of the actual pueblo, also known as Sky City. Acoma Pueblo is situated on top of...

A school located in the Grants-Cibola County School district and caters to students from middle school (7th grade) to high school (12th grade). As this school is on the...

In many modern public buildings such as schools, libraries, and hospitals, the ceiling is constructed of acoustical tiles, which are modular panels suspended beneath...

A word that suggests a sharp, intense, or narrow focus.

In both biological and cultural terms, adaptation is a process of change during which an organism, an individual, or even a society alters over time. These changes are...

Adobe is made of clay soil mixed with water and straw that is then formed into walls, oblong shapes, hornos (ovens), or bricks. The finished object is left to dry and...

A hormone, also known as epinephrine, that is secreted by the adrenal glands, especially when a person is under stress, because it increases the body's ability to...

A variety of chalcedony, a type of quartz. Agate is a very hard stone valued for its bands of color. One kind of agate for which the Southwest is particularly well-...

Assault is a criminal charge that stems from a person knowingly threatening harm against another person. Assault can become aggravated assault when a weapon is involved...

A wash within a valley located in Apache County, Arizona. This wash flows northwest into the larger Lukachukai Wash and was named “Salt Water Wash” in Spanish by 20th-...

A vernacular expression referring to one's assistance in facilitating the commission of a crime, even if only to cover it up.

A large naval vessel with a long angled deck that serves as a runway for launching or landing airplanes. Tony Hillerman uses the aircraft carrier as a size comparison...

Likely a reference to an Airstream Trailer, a famous aluminum luxury vehicle produced by Airstream INC. from the 1930s to the present. Airstream was the brainchild of...

A small town in south-central New Mexico, Alamogordo is situated between the Sacramento Mountains to the east and the White Sands National Monument to the west. There...

Alaska is the 49th U.S. state, and is located at the northwest tip of the North American continent. The name Alaska is derived from the Native Aleut language's term "...

The chief law enforcement agency, also known as APD, responsible for policing the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The APD's mission statement is as follows: "We, the...

Albuquerque is mentioned in ten Hillerman Navajo mystery novels. It is a major city in central New Mexico and is located at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level....

A famous novel written by the British author Lewis Carroll and illustrated by John Tenniel, first published in 1865 under the title Alice's Adventures in Wonderland....

An adverb derived from allegory, which is a narrative device, where plot elements, characters, and events, are symbolic of human experiences and the nature of human...

A relative measure of height that is applied to topography. The measuring starts with zero being sea-level. High altitude is usually defined as beginning around 8,000...

An alloy is a metal that is made by combining at least two other metals or a metal and a nonmetal element. The characteristics of an alloy are different than the...

This chapel, on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was built in memory of alumni killed in action while supporting US military efforts. The...

A seasonal lake bed located north of Grants, New Mexico. The lake was named “La Laguna del Difunta Ambrosio” after a Spaniard who was presumably killed by Native...

The American Indian Movement (AIM) was the Native American response to racism and white hegemony. The first chapter was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1968 by...

Also referred to as a talisman, an amulet is a small object that, according to specific beliefs, has the power to provide protection or bring good luck. In many Native...

One of the largest American mining corporations to have operated in the 20th century. The company was founded in 1880, reached a peak of production in the 1950s, and in...

Part of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area. Anaheim was founded in 1857 by a group of German immigrants who named it Anaheim, which translates from German as "...

In contemporary scholarship, the Anasazi are also referred to as Ancient or Ancestral Pueblo peoples. Neither Navajo nor modern Pueblo society condone the use of the...

Large ruins, generally located in defensible areas such as cliff faces or on mesa tops and that were ancestrally occupied by the Anasazi.

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Also known as Ha'wi-k'uh, the ancestral village of the Zuni was founded in the 1400s. It was the largest of the Zuni pueblos, and the first pueblo to be seen by Spanish...

A substance used in medical procedures to paralyze sensory nerve endings and/or nerve fibers, thus producing loss of sensation. Anesthetic substances enable patients to...

The term generally refers to people of Anglo-Saxon descent, especially in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. However, in the Southwestern parts of the United...

Insects, myriapods, and crustaceans all have a pair of thin, protruding sensory organs on their heads called antennae (the plural form of antenna). The term can also...

A scholar working within the discipline of anthropology, which is the study of humans. As a discursive field of studies, anthropology can be broadly divided into four...

Anthropology is the study of human cultures past and present and includes the four sub-fields of physical anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and...

Located in the former Student Union, the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Department of Anthropology is situated in an adobe building located on the western side of UNM...

The plural form of anthropophagous, this is another term for cannibalism from the ancient Greek word anthrōpoϕágos, meaning “man-eater.” As this word is from a quote...

A term used in microbiology to identify specialized cells of the immune system which recognize organisms that invade the body, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi....

The term literally means "opposing sepsis," which is an inflammation in the body caused by infection. In medicine, an antiseptic is an antibacterial substance that can...

The Apache are Native American peoples who historically lived in the Great Basin, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. In popular culture they are remembered as being fierce...

A star constellation that, in the Northern Hemisphere, can be seen in the southern sky. Although it lacks specific defining features, it was imagined in ancient...

Archaeology is a sub-field of anthropology. This sub-field is focused on studying, understanding, describing, and conserving the material culture (physical remains) of...

The Arctic is the region surrounding the North Pole, which reaches into the northernmost parts of Canada, Alaska, Siberia, and Greenland. The Arctic is characterized by...

Used to describe the climate of a particular geographic location. Arid landscapes are devoid of water, lack abundant moisture in the air, and often appear as a parched...

In 1912, Arizona became the 48th and last contiguous state to join the United States. The capital, Phoenix, became one of the fastest growing cities in the country...

The police division of the state of Arizona that is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations concerning driving, transportation, and road safety.

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Arizona State Police is a colloquial reference to the enforcement personnel of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (APDS). APDS began as the Arizona Rangers in 1901...

One of three land-grant universities in Arizona, Arizona State University (ASU) is one of the largest public universities in the U.S. Its multiple campuses are...

A protective outer layer generally worn to protect a person in battle. For the Europeans, armor was often made of metal and thick cloth. However, as Native Americans...

Among the five branches of the Unites States military, the Army is a large military force that is trained for war on land. The mission of the U.S. Army is to preserve...

A flying projectile shot using a bow, a curved piece of wood held in tension by string, gut, or plastic tied between the two ends. Traditionally, an arrow consists of...

More commonly spelled "arrowhead," archaeologists refer to arrowheads as projectile points. Arrowheads are prehistoric hafted (indented) pointed objects of worked...

An arroyo is a dry creek or stream bed with nearly vertical walls. Arroyos are ephemeral water ways, and so remain dry most of the time, but can fill and flow with...

An object, usually of everyday use, that was made by people in the past and discovered, often by anthropologists and archaeologists, closer to the present. Artifacts...

An idiomatic phrase, equivalent to the phrase "as the crow flies," which refers to the shortest distance between two places, a linear transect that avoids meandering...

Also known as quaking aspen, this is the most commonly and widely distributed tree native to North America. In New Mexico it can be found in the higher mountains of the...

The most common substance used in the U.S. for paving roads. Asphalt concrete (also called tarmac) is produced by laying heated refined crude oils over a layer of...

A clear, savory jelly typically derived from the preparation of fish or meat. Aspic consists of the fat and other juices released by meat during its heated preparation...

An American railroad company that operated, in the second half of the 19th century, two disjointed sections, one in the Midwest and one in the Southwest. The goal of...

The announcer who conducts the biddings and sales at a public auction. Depending upon the venue, an auctioneer projects a sedate and cultivated demeanor, for example...

A large room or hall in a public building where an audience gathers, usually for a public event of performance. In some schools the gymnasium can also function as an...

Autocracy is a governing system in which a single person or group retains total ruling power. An autocratic person is someone who assumes absolute control over an...

The dissection of a corpse (dead human body) in order to determine the cause of death. Also known as a postmortem examination or necropsy. This method is used by a...

A room in a hospital where autopsies are performed on the bodies of dead persons. An autopsy is a post-death surgery and examination meant to determine the cause of...

A backup resource that functions to support ongoing operations when reserves, extra power, or additional help is needed.

An ancient Hopi village, Awatovi's ruins are now a site of archeological research and a National Historic Landmark. The site is located on the Hopi Indian Reservation...

A shaft thatholds a vehicle's wheels and around which they revolve. In most cars there are two axles, one for the front wheels and one for the back wheels. However,...

A small town in New Mexico located 13 miles northeast of Farmington. The town is called "Kinteel" by the Navajo, which means "wide house," referring to Anasazi ruins...

One of the most abundant rock types underlying the Earth's surface, especially the upper oceanic crust, basalt is a dark-colored igneous rock. It can be fine-grained...

In the Zuni origin myth A’wonawilona is the living sky, the most supreme force whose genderless, fluid essence gave life to the earth. As the myth goes, in the...

In Native American social structures, a clan is an interrelated social group whose connections derive from parentage as well as kinship. Clan configurations develop and...

bee

A family of insects with over 20,000 species that relies entirely on pollen and nectar from flowers as its food source. As bees transport themselves from flower to...

The long, malleable branch of a tree.

Chosen by the Pekwin or head priest, the Bow priests are a warrior society linked to the cult of Ahayuda, the Zuni twin war gods. The Bow Priests care for the shrine of...

This is the term ethnologist Frank Cushing gave to Zuni processed seeds and grains. All kinds of batter cakes, bread and crackers were made by placing the batter in...

Butterflies are flying insects with vertically folding brightly colored wings. They are members of the insect order Lepidoptera, which also includes moths and are a...

The White Cliffs are a central reference point in Zuni mythology regarding the food fight and wasteful frolic at Ha'-wi-k'uh. There was enough corn piled about to stuff...

The Chief Priest of the Bow is a Zuni ceremonial group leader, a high-ranking member of the religious hierarchy, and the Society of the Bow is one of the many Zuni...

A giant creature from Zuni mythology that ate people, dead souls and thunderclouds beckoning rain. In the mythology, this monster devoured all the clouds that passed...

The Colorado Chiquito is the Spanish name given to the “Little Colorado River”, a tributary of the Colorado River whose headwaters are in the White Mountains of Arizona...

The Corn Maidens of Zuni personify the bounty of life giving corn that grows in six colors. The Seven maidens made corn seeds from rubbing the flesh off their body....

Although the Zunis are renowned horticulturists, deer hunting was a ritual activity conducted on a communal and individual level. Deerskin was often used for moccasins...

An enduring despondency and sadness causing the loss of hope for a positive futurity.

A doe is a female deer or goat. Prized for its soft comfort and warmth, doeskin is the rendered hide of the adult female deer worn for dress, stockings or moccasins....

Dung beetles feed almost exclusively on manure and navigate using the stars of the Milky Way. Some dung beetles burrow or tunnel and some simply live in dung. The...

An effigy is a three-dimensional model or sculpture of a particular person or creature. Effigies crudely represent prominent features of a hated person and are...

A bird of prey or raptor that is found on all the continents on Earth except for Antarctica. From the family Falconidae, which includes true falcons (Falco) and...

The baptismal font is a large basin on a raised pedestal, and has a primary place in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The fonts are often...

Genesis is translated from the Hebrew word Bereshit, meaning "in the beginning." Viewed as a patriarchal history, this first book of the Old Testament and the Torah...

A burrowing rodent with large cheek pouches for ferrying food. The pouches extend from the mouth deep into the shoulders. The gopher is a hoarder who stores food in a...

This Zuni term refers to a group of men chosen by the tribe to perform as runners of the sacred dance in public ceremonials. Zuni communal rituals are closely aligned...

According to Zuni cosmology, the Ice God lives in the Sacred Mountains and is responsible for the snow that will provide spring melt for crop growth. However, the warm...

According to the Zuni, the Corn Maidens dwell in a grand forest in the Land of Everlasting Summer. It is their breath that brings spring to the north, with its sweet...

Although macaws are not native to the American southwest, they are an integral part of Zuni culture. The Macaw Clan is one of the sixteen clans of the Zuni totemic...

Growing on vines in warm regions, the melon originated in central Asia and is prized for its edible, fleshy fruit. The genus melon (Cucumis melo) is in the gourd...

The largest university in Memphis, Tennessee, and a leading research institution in the state as well as its surrounding states of Arkansas and Mississippi. The...

The elongated nose/mouth bone structure of the face of an animal such as a dog or a deer. The same word is also used for the fastening device that may be placed around...

A nomad has no place he or she calls home, and lives a pastoral lifestyle, moving with their community from one location to another. Nomadism is associated with a...

This biblical canon of Christians and Jews is composed by many authors over the course of centuries, and is based on the 39 canonical scriptures of the Hebrew bible....

In Zuni ceremonial tradition, human dancers wear sacred outfits and masks to impersonate katchinas (spirit beings) that preside over Zuni life and their natural...

A pale and unhealthy demeanor, especially of the face. Writing of winter's pallor, Hillerman suggests that the atmosphere was gray and gloomy until the onset of spring...

In traditional Zuni society, a council of select priests governs over each village, with specific duties assigned to each council member. A pekwin is a secular...

This is the written Torah, the sacred text of the Hebrews, and signifies the first five chapters of the Old Testament written by Moses. Often written and preserved on...

Piñon or pine nuts are in fact not nuts but the seeds of the piñon pine tree, which is native to and common in the American Southwest. These seeds are edible and for...

Pith is the continuous rope-like strand of spongy core tissue comprising the stem structure of many vascular plants.

Prayer meal is usually cornmeal, which is used by various Native American peoples in the Southwestern parts of the U.S. as a sacred offering to the spirits in a wide...

As deputy to Sayatasha, the Rain God of the North, and one of the members of the Zuni Council of the Gods, Hututu is often associated with the gentle, misting rains of...

Revenge is a way of getting back at someone and inflicting pain as retribution for insult or injury. The group Anonymous has done this on a global scale by crashing web...

A term used culturally to refer to noses that have a prominent ridge and a hook at the end. Also, known as an aquiline nose, which is from the Latin word meaning “eagle...

A shallow saline lake located about 50 miles south of Zuni Pueblo in New Mexico. The Zuni understand the lake to be their sacred mother, Ma’l Oyattsik’I or "Salt Woman...

Chartered in 1863 as the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, this railway didn't make it to Santa Fe, NM until 1880 when it connected New Mexico in the east to the...

Sayatasha is the Rain God of the North. According to the Zuni myths, each year, the Sayatasha title is given to a person chosen by the eldest female of the ceremonial...

For the A'shiwi or Zuni, the word "shiwani" means priest, and usually references a rain priest. Shiwani or Shiwona is also the husband of Shiwaonokia, and one of the...

Prominent in the origin lore of the Zunis, Shiwanokia, or Mother-Moon, is the main consort of the god Shiwani. Known as the priestess of fertility, Shiwanokia created...

Snow birds are medium-sized sparrows with rounded head, short, stout bill and a fairly long, conspicuous tail. They are also dark-eyed, neat, and flashy little...

Sparrow is a bird of the sparrow family Passeridae, found in most parts of the world. A small bird, it has a typical length of 16 cm (6.3 in) and a weight of 24–39.5 g...

An eight-legged air-breathing anthropod that can inject venom or weave silk webs for ensnaring their prey. Spiders spin webs from glands on their abdomens. Female...

Sun-Father or Father Sun is one of the first five beings of Zuni origin stories living above a layer of fog, and created by A'wonawilona, or the living sky that...

The frosty cold from the breath of this winter god is eased by the return of the Corn Maidens in spring, who bear the scents of flowers and warm mists.

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One of the many kinds of Zuni breadstuffs referenced by the ethnologist Frank Cushing. In the early days, sweet mush was made with corn and sweetened with juniper. The...

This word could not be translated with any reliability. It's closest counterpart is the word "do'ninne," meaning rope. It could mean that dragonfly is crying out to be...

A round-shaped flatbread made of finely-ground wheat or corn. Traditionally, the corn was ground on a metate after being boiled with lime. Patted into thin disks, the...

A storage space usually found toward the rear of a vehicle, especially if the vehicle has a back seat.

Frequently in detective...

"Tsé k'izí" means "rock cleft" in Navajo. Tsai Skizzi Rock is a 400 foot high butte on the Kaibito Plateau in Arizona.

This phrase could not be translated with any reliability.

The fleshy parts of a hunted deer that can be consumed by humans. The term can sometimes also be applied to the meat of other game animals from the deer family, such as...

There are six esoteric cults within the Zuni religion, each having their own priesthood, rituals, religious paraphernalia, and special times and places for worship and...

Water resources flowing in abundance such as rain, sleet, snow melt, and rushing rivers. As her husband readies for planting by sharpening his planting stick and...

A mythic being who helped the Zunis in their search for the Middle Place, or what is now understood as Zuni Pueblo. Water striders are graceful-looking insects that,...

The White Corn Maiden is one of the younger Corn Maiden sisters of Zuni tradition, representing the direction of the east and the white color of the milk one drinks at...

A wren is a small and compact bird, with a flat head and fairly long, curved beak. It is also short-winged, often keeping its longish tail either cocked above the line...

There are Seven Corn Maidens in Zuni mythology. The Yellow Corn maiden is the eldest and represents the direction of the north. The Corn Maidens created seed by rubbing...

A clan composes an interrelated social group whose connections derive from parentage and kinship affiliation, and is common to Indigenous social structures. Clan...

A native plant to the U.S. Southwestern regions, the yucca is a member of the agave family, characterized by stiff, sword-like leaves. In the center of the yucca plant...

B

Also spelled Bacobi and Bakabi, Bacavi is a village located on the east side of Third Mesa, within the larger network and community of the Hopi people spread out across...

A reference to followers of the Roman god Bacchus (also known in Greece as the god Dionysus), the god of fruitfulness, wine, and ecstasy. As he is the god of ecstasy, a...

A researcher or lab worker in the field of bacteriology. Bacteriology is a branch of microbiology dealing with the identification, study, and cultivation of bacteria...

The badger is known for its strength, perseverance, and ferocity. A burrowing animal with large claws for digging and the ability to navigate underground, the badger is...

A city located in south-central California, about 110 miles north of Los Angeles. It was founded as an agricultural trade center in 1869, and was named after Thomas...

A dry stream that cuts through the Balakai Mesa, a part of the Black Mesa area on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona.

A 7,300 foot mountain peak that spans across the borders of the Apache and Navajo counties in Arizona. It sits to the southeast of Black Mesa and is important to the...

Part of the Black Mesa mountainous area on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Balakai Point forms the tip of Balakai mesa, which is associated with...

The Baldwin Locomotive Works was one of the leading American producers of steam trains in the 19th century. The company was founded in the 1830s in Philadelphia, and by...

A military weapon system that controls the launching of ballistic missiles, either conventional or nuclear. This term refers to the previously mentioned MIRV (Multiple...

A widely-dispersed and fast growing grass that, depending on the species, can grow as large as a tree. Paleolithic deposits of petrified bamboo have been documented...

Bark is the colloquial term for the protective outer layer of tissue on woody plants such as trees and shrubs. The technical name for bark is vascular cambium....

The hollow, cylindrical portion of a gun through which bullets or shot are discharged. Gun barrels vary in length; the length affects the volume, accuracy, and...

A child born out of wedlock (marriage), who is therefore considered "illegitimate." Often used as a vernacular insult, suggesting that an individual is somehow less...

bay

A sound an animal makes, similar to a howl or a loud growl. Most often associated with canids, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, and the domesticated dogs.

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A private Baptist university located in Waco, Texas. The university, named after one of its founders, Judge R. E. B. Baylor, was chartered by the Texas Baptist...

BB

Small circular pellets shot from air-powered guns often called BB or pellet guns.

Typically a small, often rounded object with a hole bored through the center through which a length of fiber, sinew, or gut can be threaded. Beads are formed from stone...

In some Native American traditions, the bear is considered the most powerful of all of the animals and is one of the most popular subjects of Native American artists....

In Navajo mythology there is a difference between the sun in the sky and the Bearer of the Sun, also known as Tsohanoai in navajo. The Bearer of the Sun is the holy...

Called Dziłk'i Hózhónii (Mountain Beautiful on Top) in Diné, it is the tallest peak in San Juan County, New Mexico and is sacred to the Navajo. It lies 25 miles...

In the context in which Tony Hillerman tends to use the word "beauty," it refers to the Navajo concept of hózhǫ́, the state in which all living things are ordered, in...

bed

The back, open portion of a pickup truck, used for transporting cargo.

A bundle of blankets and bedding materials that have been rolled up and tied together so that they can be transported from place to place. A bedroll can be easily...

More often spelled bilagáana, this word is an Anglicization of the Navajo word used to refer to people who have white skin.

Hillerman alternates the definition of "Beloved Ones" and sometimes it is a way of referring to ancestors and sometimes to the gods of the Zuni creation story. In Zuni...

A large medical facility located next to the University of New Mexico (UNM) campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico. First known as the Bernalillo County Indian Hospital, the...

Often commonly referred to as a "bike," the bicycle is a two-wheeled, man-powered mode of transportation that became popular as both entertainment and exercise in the...

Prescription glasses in which the lenses are horizontally divided into two parts, each with a different refractive strength. Usually the upper part is for distant or...

A group of five stars that create the major constellation also known as Ursa Major. These stars appear to rotate around the North Star, also known as Polaris. For the...

In some versions of Navajo ceremonial traditions, Big Fly, known as Do'tsoh in Navajo, and what Hillerman sometimes refers to as Sacred Fly, or Little Winds, is the...

The most noticeable geologic formation in Black Mesa, Arizona. This mountain, called Dził Ntsaaí in the Navajo language, translates to "Extensive Mountain" in English....

The term Big Reservation refers to the Navajo Reservation or the Navajo Nation as it has been called since 1969. The Navajo Nation covers 27,425 square miles of...

One of the spirit guardian creatures of the Navajo people, Big Snake is a mythological creature associated with sacred sand paintings as well as healing ceremonies....

Big-game hunting is the hunting of large wild animals such as bear, lions, leopards, elk, moose, or bison. Big-game hunters often display the heads of their hunted...

Similar to a capacious envelope, a billfold, sometimes referred to as a wallet, is usually made of leather or other pliable yet durable material and is designed to...

The manner in which a book is put and held together, especially in the area of its spine.

A handheld optical instrument with magnifying abilities, composed of two telescopes and a focusing device. Binoculars are used to observe objects at a distance for...

An area within the Navajo Nation reservation in northwestern New Mexico, about 30 miles south of Farmington. The Navajo name Bisti (or Bistahi) refers to the eroded...

This term refers to female members of the family Canidae, including wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes and domesticated dogs. This term first appeared in the 11th century...

Bitter, as an adjective, can mean sour, acidic, or biting. Bitter can also refer to emotions or attitude, suggesting that when one is bitter, one is filled with...

According Navajo traditional lore, the Bitter Water (Todích'íí'nii) clan was one of the original groups formed by Changing Woman who, as the legend goes, created four...

Also written as Bis'ii ah Wash, Biz-E-Ahi Wash is a tributary of the Nazlini wash in Apache County, Arizona. In Navajo, Bis'ii ah means “standing adobe formation." Biz...

A group of dancers who are covered in mud and perform in the Enemyway ceremonial. This portion of the ceremony is only performed at a request of the patient and is not...

Black God (Haashchʼééshzhiní), sometimes referred to as Darkness to Be One by Tony Hillerman, is the god of fire and creator of the stars in Navajo mythology. Not all...

Black Mesa is an elevated, bowl-shaped region (approximately 4,000 square miles) located in northern Arizona. It is part of the Navajo Reservation; a portion of the...

The Black Rain Chant is likely a fictional reference to a Navajo ceremonial. This chant might refer to one performed as a recreation of the story about Coyote stealing...

Formerly known as Ranchos de Zuni, Black Rock is currently an incorporated extension of Zuni Pueblo. Its name derives from its location on the south side of the Zuni...

In some versions of Navajo traditional medicine, when a person is thought to have been contaminated by coming into contact with an enemy or enemy witch, he can be taken...

Blake's Lotaburger is a popular local chain of fast food burger restaurants found throughout the state of New Mexico. Blake Chanslor served his first Lotaburger -- the...

Commonly spelled Blessingway. As opposed to the other Navajo (Diné) Chant Ways, which are used to effect a cure of a problem, the Blessingway (Hózhójí) is used to bless...

A hole in the surface bedrock through which air passes. These blowholes can occur in sea caves where the pressure of the water blasts a hole through the roof of the...

Also known as the Hard Flint Boys, the Blue Flint Boys are playful characters that work as intermediaries between Black God, who controls the sky, and the Navajo....

A small community located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The community has a mission, a school, and a post office, and is located on the...

The great blue heron is a large water bird native to North America. It can be found in saltwater as well as freshwater habitats, and is quite common in the Southwest,...

Blue Point is part of Padilla Mesa, which is a 10-mile-long low mesa located within the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona.

When Tony Hillerman's characters refer to a "blue policeman," they are referencing Navajo "Law and Order" officers. His use of this colloquial term is in reference to...

A school where students live while they attend classes. Although some boarding schools have reputations for academic excellence and are notable for the elite and...

Bobcats are a mid-sized wild cat named for their bobbed tails. They have pointed ears and are about double the size of a domesticated housecat. Bobcats live all over...

A wheeled hospital gurney, usually made of stainless steel, which is used for holding, examining, or transporting the bodies of dead people.

A detonator is a small explosive device that activates a larger bomb while ensuring a time delay for safety. Detonators can be electrical, chemical, mechanical, or...

A person who makes, smuggles, and sells illegal objects. Historically the term referred to people who smuggled alcohol concealed in their boots.

In Navajo mythology, Born of Water, also known as Water Child, is one of the twin sons of Changing Woman born to rid the earth of the monsters who were killing the...

An unincorporated community of the Navajo Nation located in McKinley County, NM. The Spanish name Borrego, meaning "yearling lamb," corresponds with the Navajo name,...

The name of the small, forty-square-mile reservation that the Navajo people were forcibly moved to in 1863-1864. Kit Carson and his New Mexican army led approximately...

A large piece of rock that has been detached from a larger rock surface by weathering, whether physical or chemical.

A game traditionally played by Navajo women before sunset. The Navajo name for this game is tsìdìł. Navajo legend suggests that Changing Woman gave the game to the...

The Bow Priests are conspicuous in Zuni cosmology and in the first world, it was the Bow Priests who planted the prayer stick that allowed the people to climb out...

A translation of the Kiowa word "Tah'-lee-da-i" which refers to one of the twin boys in the Kiowa origin story who transformed himself into the ten medicine bundles...

The bony protuberance above the eye sockets, often adorned with eyebrows. The ridge exists to protect the eyes from blunt force, the sun, and even moisture, as...

Natural vegetation consisting of small bushes, other small diameter wood plants, and bunch grasses. Brush can consist as its own vegetation type, but it often presents...

A temporary shelter that consists of a roof constructed out of tree branches or brush that are held up by poles. Often used in the Southwest to provide shade. For the...

A term used to describe desert scrub on a relatively flat terrain. Here, brush can refer to bunch grasses, perennial woody shrubs, and even occassional islands of...

Also known as a summer hogan, a brush hogan is a temporary shelter made of three forked poles and covered with the boughs of cedar or piñon pine. These structures are...

A brush shelter is a temporary dwelling made of branches, grass, and other plant materials. It is used primarily for sleeping or storage and has ties to many Native...

Buckskin is soft leather made from the skin of a deer, or other kind of horned animal, which has been treated to make it pliable. After the skin has been removed from...

A vernacular reference to the North American bison, large herds of which once roamed the North American plains in seemingly endless waves. The bison was an integral...

Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) is a prairie grass found in the western regions of North America. It has curling leaves and grows in thick patches. Buffalo...

The religion preached by the fictional Buffalo Society, a militant group invented by Tony Hillerman in his 1978 novel Listening Woman. In the novel, the Buffalo...

The Buffalo Society is a fictional militant group created by Tony Hillerman for his 1978 novel Listening Woman. In the novel, the group is described as breaking away...

The component of a modern ammunition cartridge that is fired from a weapon. Before the invention of firearms, bullets were made of clay or stone and thrown with slings...

A protective rim found at the front and rear of most vehicles. The bumper protects the body of the vehicle from incidental contact with objects, such as brush, debris...

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is part of the United States Department of the Interior established on March 11, 1824. The mission of this bureau is to provide...

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is part of the United States Department of the Interior established March 11, 1824. The mission of this bureau is to provide services...

The practices related to the ritual act of disposing of a dead person’s body. Burial customs reflect the world views and religious beliefs of the particular culture,...

A brand of shaving cream that was popular in the U.S. from the 1920s to the early 1960s. The product was one of the first brushless shaving creams to enter the market,...

Burnt Water, or Tó Díílidí in Navajo, is a sparsely populated area in Apache County, Arizona. This county has the most land designated to Native Reservations in the U.S...

Burnt Water, or Tó Díílidí in Navajo, is a sparsely populated area in Apache County, Arizona. This county has the most land designated to Native Reservations in the U.S...

The burrowing owl is a small owl that generally occupies small holes left in the soil by other animals, hence the name “burrowing." The habitat for this owl extends...

A component of natural gas, butane is usually combined with propane to make liquid propane gas, which is sold in metal containers of various sizes and is used in...

Butte is a French term meaning “hillock,” which is generally a very high hill with a flat top and steep sides. Buttes usually are bordered by flat plains and are...

A large scavenger bird that subsists on the flesh of dead animals, also known as carrion, and occasionally small living mammals it takes down as prey. The most common...

C

cab

The front, enclosed part of a pickup truck.

A plant common to the U.S. Southwest, cactus grows in habitats that regularly experience drought. Most cacti are considered succulents, meaning that they store water...

Most likely a reference to peyote, a small, spineless cactus that contains, among other compounds, mescaline, a psychoactive alkaloid that can alter one's perception...

A scientific term for a corpse or dead body. The term is used often in medical contexts, for example when bodies of dead people or animals are dissected and used for...

The rhythm or beat of a sequence of sounds, for example in spoken language.

An device meant to contain a living creature. Often, a cage is in the shape of a cube, with the sides, top, and bottom of the cage being constructed in a such as to...

The diameter measurement of either a bullet or the internal width of a gun barrel. The caliber is usually measured in hundredths of an inch, for example .22, .38, and...

Also called hardpan, this is a hardened layer of soil formed by calcium deposits. Caliche develops over thousands of years in arid and semi-arid regions when calcium...

The 31st state to join the Union, California was originally settled by hundreds of small, seminomadic indigenous groups before becoming the part of the Spanish Empire...

An anachronistic, or old fashioned term, for "escort," a term sometimes coded to refer to someone who sells sex, and sometimes nonsexual companionship, by appointment,...

A picturesque yet literal reference to several Pueblo cultures, such as the Hopi and Zuni, who have many ceremonies surrounding rain and water. Although originally semi...

Most likely a fictional title for a Navajo ceremonial invented by Tony Hillerman for his 1978 Navajo detective novel Listening Woman. According to the novel, the...

A layer of cells responsible for the secondary growth of perennial plants. Each year the vascular cambium causes plants to grow an inner layer of cells called xylem...

A small community located on the Navajo Nation Reservation in Northern Arizona. Cameron developed around a bridge built by the U.S. government over the Little Colorado...

The effect or practice of concealment. Camouflage can consist of actual artifice, for example wearing a mask or a costume or of covering one object with another....

The primary Marine Corps base on the West Coast, located in San Diego, California. It was established in 1942 during World War II. This base was named after Major...

A pickup truck, van, or other vehicle outfitted with sleeping and sometimes cooking facilities. Campers range in sophistication from trucks fitted with "toppers" to...

New Mexico's leading facility for cancer care and research, located on the North Campus of the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque. This cutting edge and...

An adjective referring to something that is authentic, frank, straight forward, objective, or non-edited.

An animal or human who consumes the flesh of a member of the same species. In animals, cannibalism occurs regularly in a number of species for population control or to...

A non-contiguous section of the Navajo reservation located approximately 75 miles from the main Navajo reservation. Cañoncito Reservation is located in central New...

A container generally made of either metal or plastic that carries liquids; often used when hiking or camping.

A snack bar or small general store at a military base or prison. At a prison, inmates who are not allowed to use cash have canteen accounts from which they can buy...

A strong, thick, durable cloth made of natural fibers such as hemp, flax, cotton, or jute. The name probably came from cannabis, the Latin term for hemp. Canvas cloth...

Typically a kind of backpack, knapsack, or rucksack made from canvas, a durable natural-fiber fabric, and large enough to carry a significant amount gear, supplies, or...

The flat valley or other ground that is bounded on two sides by steep vertical walls. This almost creates a v-shaped gap in the landscape. Canyons are often formed by...

A general reference to much of the Four Corners region of the U.S., whose geological distinctiveness is in great part derived from the riddles of canyons, large and...

A deep canyon system located in northeastern Arizona, within the Navajo Nation. The red sandstone walls intermittently break into the ledged cliff-dwellings that give...

A hard layer of rock that overlies a softer more easily eroded layer of rock. Caprocks often occur on the top of hills and mesas and sometimes also on the beds of...

In military or paramilitary organizations, such as police departments, captains outrank, or are higher in an organizational hierarchy, than lieutenants and other...

A light, short-barreled rifle with a limited shooting range. The name carbine originated in the French word "carbin," a lightly-armed cavalry soldier. A carbine rifle...

A group of islands off the southeast coast of North America, due east of Central America, and due north of South America. Located in the Caribbean Sea, these islands...

A reference to two separate states, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Carolinas are located on the east coast of the United States just below Virginia. During the...

A small, individual study space that normally contains a desk and a shelf. Carrels can be found in most libraries, and can be either partitioned or enclosed in order to...

This an isolated mountain range of extinct volcanoes located in northeastern Arizona within the Navajo Reservation. These mountains are part of the Chuska-Tunicha-...

A small, fully enclosed truck, similar to a pickup truck with a shell, except that the "shell" is part of the vehicle's body./cite>

Another word for "round," or the combination of bullet (the projectile point), the gunpowder, and the shell that holds the round together. When a firearm is...

A part of a gun that holds multiple cartridges or bullets. The magazine may be part of the gun or may be a separate attachment, sometimes called a clip. The magazine...

Carved bones are created by using a chisel or some other sharp tool to work animal, or even human, bones into shapes. Carved bones can also be embellished with surface...

In the context of mining and oil drilling, casing refers to a large pipe that is inserted into a well's borehole and then cemented into place. Casings serve various...

A catapult is a relatively simple machine that uses non-explosive force to hurl objects far distances. Subjecting the throwing arm to extreme tension and releasing it...

A naturally-occurring or man-made reservoir that collects surface water. Catch basins vary in size and shape, depending on the terrain and how they are positioned...

An individual who is a follower of the Catholic faith, one of the three major branches of Christianity, with the other two being Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism....

One of the most common wetland plants, cattails (or Typha) are reeds with tall, narrow leaves that can reach up to 10 feet in height. The plant's name is a reference to...

Also know as a cattle grid, this metal grate is used to deter livestock from crossing a road or train tracks. The guard extends across a depression in the road,...

A component of many armies, cavalry refers to units of soldiers mounted on horseback. Historically cavalry units were very important in military operations due to the...

A large mesa that lies southwest of the Acoma Indian Reservation in central New Mexico, rising up to 8,765 feet at its peak. The name Cebolleta (spelling varies and can...

Tony Hillerman's references to "cedar" probably refer to one of the many Juniperus species found throughout the Southwestern United States. Hillerman's cedar...

Established in 1920 by white settlers in Northern Arizona, this trading post is named after a nearby geologic feature by the same name. It is located on Highway 89, on...

Ceniza Mesa is also known as Toh Chin Lini, which means “Water Flowing Out” in Navajo. Ceniza Mesa is located on a western ridge of the Carrizo Mountains in...

A ridge, also referred to as Ceniza Saddle, that forms part of the geologic formation known as Ceniza Mesa, also referred as To Chin Lini, meaning “Water Flowing Out,”...

A main street that runs east-west through some of Albuquerque's oldest neighborhoods including Old Town, Downtown, the University District, and Nob Hill. Central Avenue...

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a special division of the U.S. government that is in charge of foreign information operations. It was created as part of the...

Central Park is a large, sprawling, architecturally landscaped urban park located in the center of Manhattan in New York City, New York. The idea for the park began...

Ceremonials are ritual, sacred, or spiritual practices found in many cultures around the world, including the Pueblo and Navajo in the American Southwest. Pueblo...

Also called “Yeibichei hogan,” a ceremonial hogan is constructed specifically for Navajo ceremonials. During ceremonials, these hogans are the space where sandpaintings...

Officially named Los Cerrillos (meaning "The Small Hills" in Spanish), Cerrillos, as it is commonly known, is a small village in north-central New Mexico, located just...

In the U.S., a professional accountant must pass an exam and be officially accredited by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Accountants provide...

Clyde Vernon Cessna designed the very first Cessna in 1911, and the company was founded sixteen years later. Cessna, Piper, and Beechcraft, were known as the Big...

A large stream that cuts through Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. The stream bed is dry most of the year, but is subject to flooding during the rainy seasons of...

The Chama River is a confluence of the Rio Grande, a large river that runs through the state of New Mexico from north to south. The Chama River, and the valley...

A small village in Northern New Mexico named after the Chama River, a confluence of the Rio Grande River that runs through the state from north to south. The area of...

According to Navajo mythology, it is on Earth, full of beauty and balance, that First Man and First Woman have a child, Changing Woman, also known as White Shell...

A rhythmic vocal recitation that is usually intended to provoke a meditative trance, spiritual healing, or to create the aural context for a performance such as a...

The opposite of harmony, balance, equilibrium, and the Navajo Way, or hózhǫ́. Hózhǫ́ is the state in which all living things are ordered and in balance, walking in...

A chapter house is a meeting place for Navajo people where they can publicly discuss their opinions about the goings on of the Navajo Nation and its governance....

The Checkerboard area of the Navajo Nation extends over the eastern part of the reservation, across McKinley, San Juan, and Cibola counties in New Mexico. Beginning...

The bone immediately below the eye socket that sometimes forms a prominent swell. Cheek bones are also known as the zygomatic bone and together with the brow ridge...

A large predatory cat recognizable by its uniquely patterned pelt, which consists of a yellow background covered in small, black spots. The cheetah is known for its...

The Cherokee are a US Native American tribal group who were the largest tribe in what are now the southeastern United States before European contact. Cherokee is an...

An American-made brand of car, affordable and very popular.

A popular model of the American car brand Chevrolet. The Impala was first introduced in 1958, and updated models are still in production. The Impala was marketed as a...

Chicago is the third most populated city in the United Stated, after New York and Los Angeles. The city is the cultural and arts center of the Midwest with many museums...

The term refers generally to Mexicans, or people of Mexican descent, living in the U.S., and who identify as American. The etymology of the word is not clear, but...

Narbona Primero was a greatly respected and wealthy Navajo man born in 1766 and killed in 1849 in a confrontation with the US Army. He was not technically a chief...

In military or paramilitary organizations, such as police departments, a hierarchical organization of personnel exists, often called the chain of command....

The largest state in Northern Mexico. Chihuahua shares borders with the U.S states of New Mexico and Texas. This state is known for its U.S. border-patrol presence and...

Also spelled chʼįį́dii in Navajo, a “chindi” is the spirit of a dead person. Navajos are taught to avoid contact with the dead or enclosed places, like a hogan, where...

In Navajo culture, when a person dies inside a hogan, the traditional Navajo house, it is believed that the person’s spirit, known as “chindi,” can remain trapped in...

The only high school in Chinle Unified School District, located in Chinle, Arizona on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeastern Arizona. This is a reservation...

The Navajo Nation is split into seven districts, each with a field station: Window Rock, Arizona (1), Shiprock, New Mexico (2), Crownpoint, New Mexico (3), Tuba City,...

A north-south trending valley located in northeast Arizona on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The Chinle Valley is 65 miles long and is delineated by Chinle Wash....

A community located a mile west of the mouth of Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona. In Navajo, the place is known as Ch’ínílį or “Water...

The waste product of stone work that involves chipping away at a core of hard rock. People in cultural groups around the world have developed stone-working techniques...

Chowilawu, which means "terrible power," is a Hopi kachina that is considered invisible and so is not often represented by kachina dolls or seen in public. This kachina...

The Chuska Mountain Range runs along the Arizona-New Mexico border and lays within Apache County in Arizona and McKinley and San Juan Counties in New Mexico. The Navajo...

A cigarette, often spelled cigaret in Tony Hillerman's mystery novels, is a small amount of finely cut dried tobacco rolled in small squares of thin paper into a...

Also known as concrete masonry units or cement blocks, cinder blocks are rectangular blocks made of concrete that are used in basic construction projects, such as wall...

Cirrus clouds form high in the atmosphere and are blown into their characteristic wispy streamers by high winds aloft. Cirrus clouds signal a change in the weather in...

Citizens Band, or CB, radio is a short-distance radio system that does not require a license and can be used by individuals or businesses for various communication...

An interrelated social group, whose connections derive from parentage as well as kinship. For different indigenous groups, clan structures develop and are expressed...

A European word and concept used to describe a member, often male, although the term is often considered gender neutral, of the same genetic or relational group....

The steep, vertical edge of a mountain, hill, or mesa. Cliffs expose the rock types and different earth sediments of the mountain, and can be created either by...

The Anasazi, or Ancestral Puebloan peoples, of the southwestern regions of the United States often built their houses on the sides of canyon cliffs using natural rock...

Located in northern Arizona, this county’s seat is in Flagstaff. The county encompasses Grand Canyon National Park as well as several Native reservations including...

The Coconino Rim is a common name for the rim of the southern portion of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, within the Coconino National Forest. It is part of the...

The term, which is rarely in use these days, refers specifically to a female student at a co-educational institution such as a college or university with both male and...

One of the most significant words in the Joe Leaphorn/Tony Hillerman lexicon.

The term refers to apparently random, often...

The Colorado Gorge probably refers to the Colorado River Gorge in northeastern Arizona. Geologically created by the Little Colorado River, a tributary of the Colorado...

A physiographic province that stretches across 130,000 square miles in the Four Corners Region of the American Southwest. The topographic features of this plateau...

This is the largest river in the Southwestern United States, and its headwaters are located in the state of Colorado at La Poudre Pass Lake. The Colorado runs through...

A young male horse, under the age of four, that has not been castrated.

The Comanche are a Plains Indian tribe federally recognized as the Comanche Nation, with about half the of the nation's population residing on their designated...

A commune is a group of people living together and sharing common interests, values, and endeavors, including property, possessions, and resources. In the 1960s and...

A laboratory dedicated to the study of infectious (also known as contagious) diseases, which are diseases that spread from one person to another or from an animal to a...

A device that uses the Earth's magnetic fields to determine the direction north, for navigation purposes. From the location of true north, other cardinal directions can...

A reference to a person's face. Sometimes the word specifically draws attention to skin color (dark, sun-burned, fair), sometime it refers to skin condition (smooth...

Often seen with the Anglicized spelling of "concho," a concha is a traditional Native American jewelry design that resembles a concha, which means "shell" in Spanish...

A concussion can result from a blow to the head which jars or otherwise impacts the brain. Brain function may be impaired temporarily, although a concussion does not...

The small enclosure within which a priest hears a Catholic supplicant's confession.

The role a priest plays during a Catholic confession. In this function, the priest witnesses a supplicant's oral and physical expression of his or her desire to "...

A state located along the Atlantic coast in New England and one of the thirteen original British colonies in North America. Connecticut officially became a state in...

Conoco is another name for the Continental Oil Company, a petroleum company founded in 1875. At one point, Conoco had 1,800 wells throughout the Rocky Mountain region...

Aware.

A peace officer who holds the authority to maintain order and safety and arrest suspect criminals. A constable usually functions as an officer of the law in a rural...

A term in astronomy referring to a group of stars that can be seen from Earth as forming a certain shape. Various ancient mythologies (such as Greek, Euphratean, and...

Generally speaking, a continental divide is a geographic formation usually located on a continent’s high mountain peaks. Continental divides separate water drainage in...

Mostly found in wooded areas throughout the United States, Cooper's hawks are mid-sized predatory birds. They eat other smaller birds and have been known to forage...

An organization or business that is owned by the people who operate it, with responsibilities and revenues shared among the workers.

Corn is a cereal plant, found throughout the Americas, that yields large grains, or kernels, set in rows on a cob. What we call corn today, however, has traditionally...

Corn Beetle, also known as Anlt'áni in Navajo, appears in the sandpaintings of some Navajo ceremonials. Early researchers incorrectly translated the Navajo word...

Also known as Dowa Yalanne in the Zuni language, Corn Mountain is the mesa located southeast of the current Zuni pueblo in central New Mexico. The mesa has historical...

In many indigenous cultures throughout the Americas, cornmeal is used as a prayer offering. In Zuni culture, for example, the meal is sprinkled over corn planted at...

A village near the base of the Oscura Mountains located in Lincoln, New Mexico along U.S. Route 54. The area of Corona was initially settled by Spanish sheep and cattle...

A political position at the state level responsible for investigating violent or strange deaths and homicides. In the U.S., this position can be held by a sheriff, a...

Navajos have strict taboos regarding death, as it is believed that contact with the deceased can can place the living in contact with the roaming spirit of the dead,...

Corpse powder, also known as corpse poison, is reputedly derived from the remains of a dead human body and used by Navajo witches to produce sickness in intended...

An enclosed area generally made of wooden planks that prevent stock animals, such as sheep, goats, and cows from escaping. Corrals are generally associated with...

A city in southern Colorado located along the Dolores River. This city was named after the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, who conquered the Aztecs in Mexico. Many...

The Cossacks are peasant people of various Eastern European ethnic origins (mostly Ukrainian and Polish) who, in the 15th century, formed independent, military...

Cottonwoods are tall deciduous trees of the genus Populus that are native to North America and Western Asia. These trees can reach up to 148 feet in height and can be...

A colloquial reference to a grazing allotment near Chinle, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. Because of Chinle's proximity to Canyon de Chelly, a prominent system of...

A small town located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The community, which was established around a trading post, still functions as a modest...

In the Zuni tradition, the Council of the Gods consists of a dynamic grouping of significant deities, each representing a powerful natural phenomenon or a cardinal...

A forgery of an object; a fake intended to be perceived as authentic. To counterfeit something is to operate with the intention to deceive.

A style of American music that originated in the rural parts of the South and the West, and was developed by white farmers and laborers, primarily English, Scottish,...

A small light installed inside a car, usually in the center of the vehicle's ceiling, which comes on automatically when the door is opened. In older car models, there...

This trading post was located off of Highway 160, formerly Navajo Route 1. It was established in 1882 by George McAdams and was acquired by the Babbitt Brothers Trading...

The name given to an individual who tends to and manages livestock on ranches in North America, and sometimes transports them from one place to another. The American...

In his Navajo detective novels, Tony Hillerman refers to both the regular dog-like wild animal found throughout the contiguous American continents and to Coyote, the...

A canyon located in McKinley County, New Mexico. Its Anglicized name is based on the Navajo one, Mą'ii Tééh Yítłizhí, meaning "Where Coyote Fell Into Deep Water," which...

In some versions of Navajo cosmology, there are stories and songs about a group of Coyote deities, who are also referred to as Holy People. Coyote, known as First...

One of a set of 17 songs that is performed during the Enemyway ceremony. Coyote is the trickster figure in Navajo cosmologies and is often referred to as First Angry or...

A long-legged, long-necked bird that lives in swampy, shallow water areas. The sandhill crane follows seasonal migration routes along the Southwest region's water...

More commonly spelled "crazy quilt." A crazy quilt is a patchwork quilt made with swatches fabric of varying sizes, shapes, and colors. Crazy quilts may be "crazy"...

The Creeks were Native American tribal group copmrised of a collection of tribes, primarily the Muskogee. The Creeks were a loose organization, but did form a group...

Creosote bush, also known as greasewood, is the common name for a genus of bushes known as Larrea. This evergreen bush can be found in hot and dry regions throughout...

The soles of many modern shoes and boots are made of crepe rubber, which is composed of coagulated latex that is pressed into sheets, creating a layered material that...

A crevasse is a deep vertical fissure, or a narrow crack, which can form in bedrock or ice. Usually, the term "crevasse" refers to cracks in ice or glaciers, while...

A narrow fissure, or crack, in a rock face.

Crickets are insects that have long antennae and powerful legs adapted for leaping. The males produce a shrill chirping sound by rubbing their front wings together to...

A large, black bird from the genus Corvus, which also includes ravens and jackdaws. Crows are omnivorous birds that consume carrion (dead animal flesh), berries, and...

A crowbar, also known as a wrecking bar, is a metal bar with a flat, wedge-shaped edge at one end. A crowbar is a work tool used for prying things open through the use...

In some versions of Navajo traditional medicine, the crowbill is associated with the Enemyway, a ceremonial that is sung to cure people from illness caused by coming...

A small community on the Navajo Nation Reservation in central New Mexico, located about 30 miles northeast of Thoreau (pronounced "through"). In Navajo, the place is...

A small work space within a large office that is partitioned off, usually with low walls.

When a man’s wife commits adultery, the husband is known as a cuckold.

In French, the term cul-de-sac literally means "bottom of the bag." In English it usually refers to a dead-end street, but can also be applied to any pathway, for...

A small group of spiritually devoted people, usually branching off a larger, well-established organized religion, with specific beliefs and practices that are...

A sub-field of anthropology that focuses on the study of human cultures, including their religion, laws, worldviews, food, and folklore.

A term in microbiology referring to the propagation of bacterial colonies of microorganisms, tissue cells, or other living matter in a specially-prepared nutritional...

A pipe or a cement structure designed to let water flow under a road. Such structures can be either embedded in the ground under the road, or protrude up, forming a...

In the Navajo tradition, curing ceremonials are chantways used to remove the sources of diseases. For the Navajo, ceremonies are conducted on an individual basis,...

D

The third largest city in Texas (after Houston and San Antonio). Dallas is located in the northeastern part of the state in a flat, hot, and humid subtropical region....

A reference to the holy village beneath Lake Kolhu/wala-wa, where the Zuni go to be with their ancestors after they have died. In Zuni mythology, before settling into...

In many Native American cultures, dancing is a common part of spiritual, communal ceremonies. Dancing can be a form of supplication to spirits or deities, for...

Black God, known as Haashchʼééshzhiní in Navajo, is the god of fire and creator of the stars according to Navajo tradition. In his Navajo mystery series, Tony Hillerman...

Datura is a genus of flowering plants that is used as a narcotic in various cultural traditions throughout the Americas. Because of its hallucinatory properties, its...

The Dawn People are Holy People (deities) of Navajo mythology. In Navajo culture, the Holy People are immortal beings who can take the form of landscape elements,...

A trap consisting of a weight that is balanced to fall, crush, and kill an animal.

Deadfall can also refer to a mass of tangled...

In Navajo culture, when a person dies inside a hogan, the traditional Navajo house, it is believed that the person’s spirit, known as “chindi,” can remain trapped in...

Pieces of stone removed from a larger core that aren't usable or identifiable as having an intentionally crafted blade edge. Debris is obviously associated with the...

Something used to distract attention away from something or someone else.

Because of its prevalence throughout the Southwest, Hillerman is probably referring to the mule deer, named for its ears, which are large like those of the mule....

A tough cotton textile, typically dyed indigo blue. First made in France, where it was called "serge de Nîmes," which is where we get the name "denim," the fabric has...

The "mile-high" capital and largest city in Colorado, Denver is located at the western end of the Great Plains, just east of the Rocky Mountains. Arapaho peoples...

A deputy sheriff is subordinate to the sheriff, often operating as the second-in-command.

A sheriff is generally an elected...

This is one of the titles for the role a young Zuni man performs when participating in the Shalako ceremony, which takes place around the winter solstice. The winter...

The wife of Othello in William Shakespeare’s play OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE. Othello murders Desdemona after he is convinced by the villian, Iago, that she is being...

An arid environment characterized by limited rainfall, sparse vegetation, and animals that are specially adapted for extreme temperature changes. In the U.S. Southwest...

In politics, a landslide describes an electoral victory in which a candidate wins by a sweeping majority of votes. In the election of 1948, Thomas E. Dewey, who was the...

A public statement, opinion, or observation intended or interpreted as an authoritative pronouncement.

An anachronistic metaphor that alludes to a figurative death upon arrival, specifically in terms of the generation of thoughts while brainstorming. In other words, as...

Diesel is a petroleum derivative used for fuel and gets better fuel efficiency than gas, although as it combusts to produce the energy harnessed to drive engines, it...

dig

An archaeological site in which soil and other organic and inorganic materials are removed during a methodical investigation of the contents of the various historical...

An individual who superficially exhibits "strong" or "deep" cultural attachments without knowing anything about the culture to which he or she becomes attached. The...

In the context of Hillerman's 1980 novel People of Darkness, this Navajo word means "moles," or, more literally, "people of darkness." However, there is no indication...

More often spelled "Diné," Dinee can be translated from the Navajo language as "the People." Diné is also how the Navajo refer to themselves. The Diné are the largest...

The traditional Navajo (Diné) homeland, located in the canyon country of the San Juan River, and marked by the mountains located at each of the four sacred directions...

A small community on the Navajo Reservation, located on Highway 160 in the northeastern corner of Arizona. In Navajo, the name Dennihotso means "A Yellow Meadow...

An individual who dispatches, or facilitates, the exchange of information, typically via radio transmission. Dispatchers usually work at a central hub of an...

To skip, avoid, leave, or refuse to participate in an event or activity. One can ditch school or one's acquaintances by leaving them behind or by never showing up to...

The great blue heron is a large water bird native to North America. It can be found in saltwater as well as freshwater habitats, and is quite common in the Southwest,...

An academic status also known as "all but dissertation," or ABD. The doctoral candidate has completed all coursework, comprehensive examinations, and oral defenses...

More commonly known as snakeweed in English, it is also known as “big dodge weed” in Navajo (Ch’il diilyesiitoh). This grass is a woody perennial plant that grows in...

A two-person strategy game invented by Colin Vout. Two or more cars per player are placed on a 3 x 3 or larger gridded board. Each player takes turns moving one car...

In this context, dog skin refers to a Navajo Wolf, a witch that dresses in the skin of a wolf. The Navajo Wolf can also read others' minds, control minds, bring forth...

An often strict, conservative set of rules, beliefs, or even cultural practices that are intended to be disseminated and accepted as truth. In many cases, a sense of...

An anachronisitic reference to an individual who uses mind-altering substances recreationally.

"Dope" itself is slang for...

Because of their beauty and mobility, dragonflies have earned a special place in various cultures around the world. Although European cultures have tended to...

Removing the blood and internal organs of an animal in order to best preserve its meat until it can be further processed.

A tool used for making holes in hard materials. A drill has a narrow, protruding, spirally-groove end, or bit, which revolves while penetrating through solid...

A prolonged period of atypical dry weather conditions with little or no rain that finds fuel moistures, water tables, aquifers, and surface waterways low to dry....

The temporary state of a person's physical and mental functions being impaired by the over-consumption of alcoholic beverages.

...

A dry camp is a camp where there is not a nearby source of water, often in remote areas. Dry camping requires that campers carry their own potable water and that they...

In the Hopi tradition, Dung Carrier, or Kwiranonoa, is one of many runner kachinas (Wawarus) that challenge men to races. If the men are caught, Dung Carrier smears his...

A sinuous, vertical column of air that twists from the ground into the atmosphere, a dust devil is a small version of a tornado. Developing during hot, dry conditions...

A nitroglycerin-based explosive material often used for construction, mining, and demolition. Dynamite was patented in 1867 by Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, and...

Part of the large Black Mesa mountainous area of the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona, the Dzilidushzhinih Peaks appear to be the same as Little Black...

This relatively low elevation mountain is also the site of a census designation community. The mountain stands between First Mesa and Balakai Mesa, near Polacca Wash in...

E

A large bird of prey common throughout North America. In many Native American traditions, the eagle is a prominent mythological animal representing hunting or fighting...

A general, if antiquated, reference to the early progenitors of bipedal evolution.

In the Navajo origin story, the Earth Surface People were created by Changing Woman. Later, the Holy People taught them how to live in the Navajo Way. This is how the...

The earth is made of multiple layers of hardened and liquid rocks, which include, moving from the exterior of the planet toward the interior, the crust, mantle, outer...

This term could refer to the New York, New Jersey, New England, or Pennsylvania Mafiosi. Mafia are organized criminal syndicates with a hierarchical structure generally...

El Malpais (meaning "The Badlands" in Spanish) is a large area covered in lava flow from the now-extinct volcanoes of the San Mateo and Zuni mountains, stretching...

A city located in the far southwestern corner of Texas, on the banks of the Rio Grande, and just across the border from the city of Juárez, Mexico. In Spanish, the name...

The movement of electrons through a substance or material, such as a wire.

Electrical engineering is a subfield of engineering that studies and researches electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism and includes system design in areas...

Electrical transmission lines transport electrical energy from power plants to substations. From the substations, electricity is then distributed to local users via...

elk

Also known as wapity (meaning "white rump" in Shawnee), the elk is one of the largest species of the deer family. It is recognizable by its size, its light color, and...

In this instance the word embryo is used to describe the developmental stage of a thundercloud. However, the word embryo is typically used to refer to the early...

A common medication, generically known as Aspirin, which is used to relieve pain, reduce fever, and treat mild inflammations and swelling.

A wealthy Los Angeles suburb, located in the San Fernando Valley, in the northwestern part of the city. Encino was home to the Grabielino Native peoples and was...

A component in most Navajo sandpaintings, the Encircling Guardian can be a creature, object, lightning, arrow, rainbow, or animal that encircles the edges of the...

A part of the Enemyway ceremony, which is performed to cure people from illness caused by coming into contact with an "enemy," typically someone or an experience...

The two most common ceremonials in the Navajo religion are the Blessingway (Hózhójí) and the Enemyway (‘Anaaʼjí). While the Blessingway is often sung over individuals...

An animal's guts, or innards, especially its intestines.

The geologic process in which the surface of the earth, including soil, bedrock, and rock fragments, is degraded by natural processes. There are multiple processes by...

A colorless and sweet-smelling flammable liquid, diethyl ether was used in the past as an inhaled general anesthetic. Due to its flammability, diethyl ether has been...

Ethnology is one of the subfields of anthropology, which also include archaeological, biological, cultural, linguistic, and social anthropologies. Ethnology involves...

A written (or typed) statement detailing expenses incurred during a particular event, such as a trip, or while performing a certain job, such as a research project....

The condition of having little or no protection from the natural elements. Severe and prolonged exposure to heat, cold, thirst, or hunger can lead ultimately to death...

The cultural or biological process of reduction resulting in the eventual disappearance of a language, tradition, cultural group, or species. Although extinction is...

Extrusion is a process in which a tough or difficult to work with material, often metal, is pushed through a mold or die to become a particular shape. More generally,...

An adjective that suggests an almost triumphant sense of celebration.

F

The F-150 is an iconic Ford-built pickup truck that was introduced in 1948. A full-sized pickup with a carrying capacity of up to 150 tons, the F-150 became the work...

Farmington is a town located in northern New Mexico between the San Juan, La Plata, and Animas Rivers in San Juan County. The name for this settlement in Navajo is Tóta...

The commonly used title of an ordained Catholic priest. In the Catholic Church, a priest is a man who is authorized to perform as a mediator between his congregation...

Geologic faults form along the edges of tectonic plates, which are planar fractures in the earth’s crust, as the plates become compressed or filled with tension as they...

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the United States’ national security and law enforcement agency, which conducts intelligence-driven investigations of...

A federal surveyor is someone who works for the U.S. Department of the Interior and Geological Survey to survey land and create maps based on their surveys. Federal...

A program run by the U.S. Marshals Service that was created by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 in order to protect witnesses or whistleblowers as a result of...

In the U.S., a felony is a crime punishable by a term of at least one year in a state or federal prison. A felony can also be punishable by death. Also referred to as "...

A type of cloth that is made of compressed wool fibers that are treated with heat, water, and chemicals to form a thick, relatively stiff material normally used to make...

A flanged element of a vehicle's body that swells out over the wheel wells. Although fenders often have a decorative aspect, they are intended to prevent tires from...

In general terms, a fetish is a small, material object that is believed to impart special strength, power, or attributes to the person carrying it. In many indigenous...

Typically, a metal cabinet containing a series of sliding drawers that are arranged vertically so that it appears as if they are stacked one on top of another. The...

An imprint made by the ridges, crests, and arches that adorn the soft pads aon our fingertips. These imprints are created by ridges that are present on the epidermis (...

fir

Also known as Douglas fir, this tree is the largest of the evergreens native to New Mexico and Arizona. It is a major source of timber is widely distributed in...

When the Navajo First People came to the present world, they did not realize that part of the time it would be very cold. In order to get warm, Coyote crafted a plan...

A highly decorated military unit that was developed by the War Department of the United States of America in 1921 after the end of World War I. The 1st Cavalry Division...

While there are many different versions of the Navajo Origin Myth, the general outlines of the myth are present in all versions, and First Woman (Áłtsé Asdzą́ą́),...

The Hopi Indian Reservation, which is located within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation Reservation in Northern Arizona, spreads over three mesas that are part of a...

In the Navajo healing tradition, the First Songs are a group of four songs ('acáłe) that are sung on the very last morning of the Enemyway ceremonial. The Enemyway is...

While there are many different versions of the Navajo Origin Myth, the general outlines of the myth are present in all versions, and First Woman (Áłtsé Asdzą́ą́),...

A crack or cleft in a rock surface. This fissure can occur in joints between rock formations or in faults between tectonic plates.

Flagstaff is a city in Northern Arizona and is the county seat of Coconino County. The Coconino National Forest just outside the city limits is the largest contiguous...

An archaeological reference to a manually produced small, relatively flat, sharp-edged piece of stone that is made when one stone is struck by another. Flakes can...

A sudden flood that occurs when a large amount of rain falls in a short amount of time, often characterized by fast-moving water and destruction. Flash floods are...

A portable, usually handheld, illumination device. Typically, a flashlight consists of a stem, comprised of a hard casing that doubles as a handle and as the housing...

Tony Hillerman uses this phrase to refer to people who are not native to the Southwest and therefore do not understand the variegated geography of the landscape and...

This is another way of referring to the A'shiwi, or Zuni, people before they had earned, or learned, their name. This type of naming convention suggests a pre-...

A travel bag used for short trips, usually designed as a small suitcase, with a zipper on top and either a shoulder strap or two handles. Flight bags are light and easy...

Also known as chert, flint is an exceptionally hard sedimentary rock that is therefore especially desirable when making stone tools that need to have and keep edges....

An area that is prone to seasonal flooding. Flood plains vary in size and usually follow lower parts of valleys through which a primary water source flows. Because of...

Florence Hawley Ellis was a Southwestern archaeologist, who was not only a pioneer of dendrochronology, a method of dating using tree rings, but also accomplished the...

The term describes a complexion or skin tone that is flushed and tinged with red. Florid can also suggest excess in style and ornamentation, an overabundance of...

Folsom culture refers to a prehistoric group of nomadic hunters that may have hunted bison during the Pleistocene era. The majority of Folsom artifacts date to a...

Distinguished from a Clovis point in that Clovis points come from a slightly older culture and are slightly less sophisticated points in terms of stone working...

The second oldest correctional facility in California (after San Quentin), Folsom State Prison was opened in 1880, following the California Gold Rush. It is located on...

A series of small hills located at the bottom or base of a larger range of topogrpahic upheaval.

An American car brand that is known world-wide as popular, reliable and affordable. The Ford automobile company was named after Henry Ford, who is famous for changing...

A trademark name for a smooth, hard plastic top surface made of sheets of special paper laminated in synthetic resins. Formica was invented in 1912 in New Zealand and...

Fornication is the sexual act between two people who are not married to one another.

Now a National Historic Landmark, Fort Sill is a US Army post located in Lawton, OK. Established in 1869, it is the only active fort that remains from the era of the...

The four corners refers to the spot in the southwestern U.S. where the corners of four states meet. It includes the northwestern corner of New Mexico, the...

The number four is sacred to many Native Americans. There are four sacred directions, four sacred mountains, four sacred plants, and four times of day. It is believed...

Although there are many variations of the creation myth among the indigenous peoples of the Southwest, basic elements of the story are repeated and point to similar...

fox

Foxes are canines that tend to be on the small size, with large upright ears and a large, bushy tail. They are opportunistic, ominvorous, and highly adaptable. In...

A Franciscan is a Christian who belongs to the Franciscan order, which is a Catholic sect that follows the teachings and guidance of St. Francis of Assisi. Preaching a...

This U.S. born ethnologist and anthropologist spent five years among the Zuni, from 1879-1884, when his advocacy for keeping the Nutria Valley within Zuni boundaries...

Frank Hibben is a well-known archaeologist who studied Paleoindian cultures and had a very long and very controversial career. He received his master’s degree in...

A renowned and prolific American architect famous for designing numerous public buildings as well as residential homes. He is credited as the main contributor to the...

Slang for "fraternity house." Fraternity (and sorority) houses are part of the Greek system, or Greek letter organization, found at some universities and colleges, a...

In Puebloan culture, fraternities are associated with "medicine," curative powers, and the ability to conjure or control natural phenomena to benefit the health of...

Frenzy witchcraft is a form of witchcraft associated with the use of narcotic plants and “love magic” and is different than witchcraft associated with the “wolf” or...

The first year of undergraduate education after having graduated from high school. This year is often associated with awkwardness, alienation, experimentation, and...

An amphibious creature surprisingly populous in the arid west, found in ephemeral waterways and during the summer monsoons. In the Navajo tradition, Frog (or First...

Frost forms when objects at the earth's surface are colder than the air around them. Not only are the objects cold, they are cold enough to freeze the water vapor in...

Fruitland began as a Mormon community and Navajo Trading post located in San Juan County, New Mexico. This community was named in order to advertise its agricultural...

It is commonly believed that fry bread is a result of Navajo contact with white settler colonial practices, specifically during their 1864 internment at Fort Sumner...

A funeral home, sometimes referred to as a mortuary, is a funeral service agency that specializes in planning and conducting burials, cremations, and memorial services...

A word that may have appeared at the turn of the twentieth century as a term of contempt for police, based on derogatory criminal slang from the period. To be "fuzzy...

G

A basin and watershed area in northern New Mexico. It receives water run-off from the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the north and drains into the Rio Grande to the...

A large geologic formation located in north-central New Mexico between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe and the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque. This...

A small organ that releases bile, a bitter and acidic substance, into the small intestine.

In Native American cultures, the...

Gall medicine is made of the gall bladders of eagles, mountain lions, bear, and skunk. Occasionally the gall bladders of sheep, wolf, badger, and deer are also used....

A hard mass, or stone, that amasses in the gallbladder. Consisting of a concretion of cholesterol, gallstone can cause immense pain to the patient.

The chief law enforcement agency, also known as GPD, responsible for policing the city of Gallup, New Mexico. The GPD's mission statement is as follows: "The mission of...

Gallup is the most populous city along I-40 between Flagstaff, AZ and Albuquerque, NM , which is the interstate overlay of "the mother road," Route 66. The city was...

Animals hunted for food or sport by other animals, including humans.

Ganado High School is located on the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona. Most of the students who attend Ganado High School are Native American. The school is a...

Ganado Mucho, also referred to as Gañado Mucho, was a Navajo leader during 1850s and 1860s, the time of the tribe's conflict-ridden transition to reservation life and...

A settlement in Apache County, Arizona. The settlement is named after Ganado Mucho, the last head chief of the western division of the Navajo and the twelfth signer of...

A long, flat highland located in the southwestern part of the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in Arizona. This mesa was named after Francisco Garces, a Spanish...

Another word for chatty or talkative. Someone who is garrulous talks a lot, all the time, and not necessarily about anything "important." Because garrulous also...

Philip Henry Sheridan (1831-1888) was a cavalry general whose leadership was instrumental in defeating the Confederate army in the last phase of the American Civil...

Also called a dynamo, a generator is a machine that produces electrical power from mechanical power. While the mechanical power can be generated in a number of ways,...

A genius is an individual of exceptional talent in some, or perhaps many, areas such as music, film, mathematics, architecture, or even the culinary arts. Although...

In the study and mapping of the earth's surface, geologists classify a geological formation as any basic unit of rock that stands out from its surroundings. A...

A scientist whose work it is to understand the history of our planet. Geology is the study of the Earth, what it's made of, how it came to be made out of those...

Geology is the study of the Earth, what it's made of, how it came to be made out of those materials, and the processes that have acted, and continue to act, upon...

In some versions of Navajo traditional beliefs, when people die, their ghosts, which are understood as their essence or spirit, can linger in the place of dying and...

The Ghost Dance was a spiritual tradition that was adopted by various Native American groups around North America in the late 1800s. The dance was based in the...

According to the Navajo belief system, which involves strict taboos regarding death, if a person dies inside a dwelling place rather than outside in an open space, the...

Gila monster is one of the Navajo Holy People and is thought to be the original medicine man (according to the Flintway ceremony). When drawn in sand paintings and...

A portion of the Enemyway ceremonial held after sundown at the end of the first day of the ceremony. It is dance where girls can choose with whom they wish to dance,...

Glaciers are huge bodies of ice that form because they accumulate more mass (from precipitation) than they lose (from melting and evaporation) over time. Glaciers can...

Glen Canyon was formed by the Colorado River and is located between Lake Powell and Lee's Ferry, in Northern Arizona. Originally, the canyon stretched about 100 miles...

A small compartment in the dashboard of a vehicle, usually on the passenger's side, with a hinged door that swings open toward the floor. Althought the glovebox was...

GMC

The acronym stands for General Motors Corporation, an U.S. automobile manufacturer which was the world's largest producer of motor vehicles for most of the 20th century...

A decorative drinking vessel such as a cup or glass that has a foot and a stem, often made out of silver. The origin of the word is in Middle English, and goblets...

Found throughout almost every region of the Northern Hemisphere, golden eagles are one of the most common and largest predatory birds on the planet. They mainly prey...

The golden mean is another term for the golden ratio, a mathematical concept that presents itself in nature as a range of interlinking relationships. A Greek...

Numerous summer- and fall-blooming plants found in meadows and pastures and along roads, ditches, and other disturbed areas throughout North America. Goldenrod...

In Spanish, "gordo" means fat. As a nickname, it is used in a derogatory way to make fun of a heavy-set person.

An American magazine dedicated to upscale food and wine that was published monthly between the years 1941-2009. The magazine targeted professional and amateur chefs,...

A student in graduate school who receives reimbursement for working to support individual faculty research, departmental functions, or university offices. Typically,...

A class offered for small groups of graduate students. Instead of conducting a lecture, the instructor facilitates an in-depth discussion that focuses on assigned...

A student pursuing an advanced academic or professional degree. At the end of academic graduate programs, as opposed to professional degree programs such as management...

The colloquial name for a genus (Bouteloua) of perennial or annual grasses that grows in clumps or tufts throughout North America and includes such range grasses as:...

One of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon is a vast canyon system located in present day Arizona, west of the Navajo Reservation. Almost three hundred...

An intrusive igneous rock that forms when magma slowly crystalizes beneath the earth’s surface instead of erupting through the earth's surface as a dynamic expression...

The Grants Daily Beacon was a newspaper founded by J.B. Barber and published in Grants, New Mexico, between the years 1959-1990. The newspaper provided reports and...

A small town located in central New Mexico, just north of Interstate 40, about 75 miles west of Albuquerque. It is the county seat for Cibola (formerly Valencia)...

The condition of being grainy or of having the consistency of coarse sand. Gritty.

A slab of stone, traditionally marble or granite, that marks a person's burial place. The stone is usually engraved with the dead person's name and dates of birth and...

Part of the Tunicha Mountains, Gray Streak Mountain is located on the Navajo Nation Reservation in northeastern Arizona, near the small community of Lukachukai....

Greasewood is the common name for several plant species. Also known as creosote,this evergreen bush can be found in hot and dry regions throughout the western U.S....

Greasewood is a small, predominantly Navajo community in northeastern Arizona. The community boasts the Lower Greasewood Chapter House, and the children in Greasewood...

The Navajo reservation, which spreads across northwestern New Mexico, northeastern Arizona, and southern Utah, is comprised of seven major judicial districts, and many...

A reference to the polytheistic religion of ancient Greek society, which consisted of complex and detailed stories with multiple gods and other heroic figures as main...

In Tony Hillerman's 1970 Navajo detective novel THE BLESSING WAY, Greersen is a fictional anthropologist who wrote about skinwalkers and Navajo witchcraft. In the...

An organizational schema comprised of a network of interconnecting lines that create integrated series of squares.

A facial expression indicating disgust, wry irony, displeasure, pain, or some level of emotional or physical discomfort.

Sloths are two- or three-toed mammals related to anteaters. Sloths today tend to be arboreal, living in trees above the forest floor, and are very slow moving....

Officially titled the Republic of Guatemala, this Central American country is bounded by Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Belize. The origin of the name Guatemala...

A six-stringed, wood-bodied instrument with a fretted neck. The basic guitar, which emerged from the confluence of Islamic and Greco-Roman musical traditions in the...

Gulf Oil was a U.S. oil company founded in 1907 and based in Port Arthur, Texas. The company was owned by the Mellon family until 1985, when it was subsumed under...

A long and wide trench that cuts into soft rock or sediment. Gullies normally occur in areas where the ground surface has been exposed to fire, the effects of climate...

In Navajo folklore, Gum-Tooth Woman (sometimes known as Tooth-Gum Woman) appears to be a humorously indecent, bawdy character whose role in tales is to make sexual...

A term referring to a speech sound that is generated in the throat. English has very few such throat-originated articulations, while other languages, like Arabic,...

H

In Hillerman's Boy Who Made Dragonfly this is a Zuni word used to express approval of or agreement with a spoken statement. The spelling of the term may vary in...

Ha'wi-k'uh, the ancestral village of the Zuni founded in the 1400s, was the largest of the Zuni pueblos, and the first pueblo to be seen by Spanish explorers....

A fictitious town near the Oscura Mountains in Socorro County in central New Mexico. A small community mentioned in Tony Hillerman's 1970 Navajo detective novel THE...

In the tragic play, THE TRAGEDY OF HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK, written by William Shakespeare between 1599 and 1601, Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark, returns home because...

Also spelled hand axe. In modern times, a hand ax is a short-handled metal tool with a sharp head used for chopping objects, such branches, trees, or even limbs of an...

In the Navajo tradition, before a singer, or medicine man (called a hataałii in Navajo), is requested to perform a healing ceremonial, a hand trembler, or ndilniihii,...

A component in an automobile that is used either as a brake for emergency stopping or keeping a car in place when parked on a steep slope. This brake is engaged by...

A small village inhabited by mostly Tewa Pueblo people, located on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The settlement was established around 1700, when the...

The Hard Flint Boys, also known as Beesh Ashiike in Navajo, as well as the Blue Flint Boys, comprise the seven stars in the Pleiades constellation. In Navajo...

In Navajo cosmology, Hard Flint Woman is the grandmother and leader of the Hard Flint Boys. In the Enemyway story, Hard Flint Woman leads the Hard Flint Boys to Monster...

Hard Goods Canyon is a fictional canyon in Tony Hillerman’s first Navajo detective novel THE BLESSING WAY, published in 1970. The canyon is located near Old Woman Gray...

In the context in which Tony Hillerman tends to use the word "harmony," it refers to the Navajo concept of hózhǫ́, the state in which all living things are ordered, in...

A prestigious private university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636, Harvard was the original institution in the U.S. Ivy League, a group of...

A reference to collaborative Southwestern archaeological excavations of the early 20th century completed by Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in...

The Navajo term hatałii, also spelled yataalii, translates as into English as "singer." Singers are medicine men who perform traditional healing ceremonies and...

A thin layer of particulate matter in the ambient atmosphere that makes objects in the distance appear blurry and further away than usual, or that refracts light into...

A decorative or ceremonial head covering that can be made of leather, wood, cloth, and other materials including gold. Headdresses are often decorated by feathers,...

This term most likely refers to a sandstone natural rock structure near Crownpoint, New Mexico that is most often called "Heart Rock" on maps. For a span of...

The hearth is technically the floor of a fire pit or fireplace. Hearth also refers to the extension from the center of the fire outward to the warm floor in front of...

The meaty part of the hand between the palm and the wrist. There is a corresponding portion of the foot also known as the heel, which is the part of the foot that...

The Hero Twins, Born of Water and Monster Slayer, are the twin sons of Changing Woman and were born to rid the earth of the monsters who were killing the Diné, or...

A car rental company that was founded in the early 1920s by John D. Hertz. Its first rental office was opened in 1932 at the Midway Airport in Chicago, with many more...

A hand tool with a sharpened and usually angled edge used to scrape flesh and fat from animal hides. It can also be used to scrape the cleaned and untreated hide...

A region that runs from South Dakota to West Texas, where it is known in Spanish as the Llano Estacado or "staked or fenced plain.” The High Plains are mostly level...

In Hillerman's novel The Dark wind, Arizona Highway 58 is mentioned as a connecting route between Winslow, Arizona and the Navajo Reservation to the north. However, the...

Highway 87 crosses the eastern parts of the state of Arizona from north to south. Its northern end connects with Highway 264 at Second Mesa, on the Hopi Indian...

A small rise in elevation on the landscape or a small hill.

The hippie movement emerged from the tumultuous 1960s in North America and Western Europe. Hippies were often teenagers, college students, or young adults that were...

A hogan is one of several traditional Navajo structures. Building hogans has ceremonial significance, and instructions for their construction have been passed down...

A hollow point is type of bullet with a hollow front, which makes it a lighter and therefore faster projectile than heavier ammunition, allowing for greater accuracy in...

Officially title "The Hollywood Squares," this was an iconic popular American television game show that aired between 1965-1982. Known for its humorous and oddball...

A sling for a firearm, usually made of leather or canvas, worn either around the shoulders with the gun resting just under the armpit area, or around the waist....

In many tradtional cultures, the Holy People are immortal beings who can take the form of ancestor spirits, universal guides, landscape elements, animals, plants, and...

From the Latin, where "homo" refers to "man" and "cida" refers to "killer," a homicide occurs when one human takes the life of another. It should be noted that there...

The flat piece of metal that covers the engine of automotive vehicles and protects the internal mechanisms. The hood can be locked with a latch and has hinges so that...

The term hoodlum, often shortened to hood, refers to an individual assumed to be associated with crimes and violence. Especially when the term is shortened to "hood,"...

the act of skipping, avoiding, leaving, or refusing to participate in an event or activity. One plays hooky by not attending school, for example.

The Hopi Motel, now referred to as an inn or hotel, is part of the Hopi Cultural Center, which is located on Second Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. The...

A cultural mythology consists of the collected body of narratives that form the base for a world view, philosophy, and religion of a particular culture. Such narratives...

The Hopi are a Native American tribal people, who comprise a sovereign nation located in northeastern Arizona. They are also known as one of the Pueblo peoples, as...

The Hopi have lived in the U.S. Southwest for thousands of years, and while their ancestral lands span large swaths of the Southwest, the Hopi Reservation currently...

On the Hopi Reservation in north-central Arizona, which is completely surrounded by the Navajo Reservation, there are twelve Hopi villages. These villages are not in...

The name refers to an iconic frame for eyeglasses which was originally made of horn or tortoise shell. However, those materials are no longer in use, and horm-rimmed...

Native to deserts and semi-arid habitats of North and Central America, the horned frog, more commonly referred to as a horned, or horny, toad, is in fact a lizard,...

A small songbird common to fields, deserts, and tundra with a high, tinkling song that can tumble down from heights and flights hundreds of feet in the air. Their...

The Navajo creation story describes the emergence of the Navajos people into this world. The Holy Wind (Niłchʼi Diyin) arose through the darkness to animate and bring...

The Spanish word for oven is horno. In the pueblos, hornos are adobe earth structures built separately from dwelling structures. With a distinct, bee-hive shape,...

The horse was introduced to the Americas in the 1500s by the Spaniards. While the Spaniards prized the horse for the role it played in travel, exploration, and war,...

A fictitious location near Many Ruins Canyon, Arizona that would be in the vicinity of Red Rock Valley, near the Arizona-New Mexico border, as well as to the west of...

A trailer specifically designed for hauling two or more horses behind a vehicle. It can also be adapted to carry feed, equipment, and to even heat or cool the animals...

Horsefly, also spelled horse fly, is the common name for any of more than 2000 insects from the family Tabanidae. The male horsefly feeds on pollen and nectar while...

A piece of flat, U-shaped iron that is attached to a horse's hoof. Horseshoes are nailed to the hard surface of the bottom of the hoofs, reducing the risk of injury or...

A vernacular expression for playing, fooling, or screwing around, a usually innocuous but sometimes boisterous activity engaged in by individuals to pass time and...

A fictional location mentioned by Hillerman in Dance Hall of the Dead. Because the local hippie commune is mentioned as "living in hogans behind Hoski Butte," it seems...

More commonly spelled as Hoskinini Mesa, this is a site located roughly between Monument Valley and Kayenta. Hoskinini was named after the well-known Navajo leader,...

Also spelled Hastiin, Hosteen is a term of respectful address in Navajo meaning man or husband. In Navajo, "First Man," from the Navajo Origin Story, is called Áłtsé...

A Hopi village located on the Hopi Pueblo Reservation, within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The village was founded in...

The Houses of the Enemy of the Dead are large cliff dwellings that were originally occupied by the Ancestral Puebloans, also referred to as the Anasazi. These...

The city is named after Sam Houston, the first president of Texas and a leader of the 1834-36 struggle against Mexico to win control of the state and annex it as a U....

A television weather forecaster who worked for KOAT-channel 7, a TV station based in Albuquerque, NM, for 28 years, from 1971 to 1999. Morgan was a familiar and...

Hózhǫ́ is the state in which all living things are ordered, in balance, and walking in beauty. The opposite of hózhǫ́ is hóchxǫ́ǫ́, which refers to disorder and...

An academic field that is comprised of a group of disciplines concerned with human cultures, values, and forms of expression. In most universities and colleges the...

A general term referring to a small hill, mound, or knoll above the ground in any natural environment.

A semi-permanent location that a nomadic hunting group might return to over and over during annual journeys that involved following game animals during seasonal...

A small town located in eastern Texas, Huntsville is home to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a large, state-operated prison. The Department of Criminal...

An adjective describing something under the skin, for example hypodermic needles or tranquilizer darts.

I

A wild goat population whose natural habitat is in mountain ranges in parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The ibex is famous for its hardiness and...

"Ice Age" refers to the Pleistocene epoch, which ended between 13,000 - 9,000 years ago. He Pleisticene epoch was the most recent period during which the Northern...

A U.S. state located in the northwestern region of the country. Idaho is bordered by Oregon and Washington to the west, Utah and Nevada to the South, Montana and...

Igneous rock occurs both above and below the earth's surface. Intrusive igneous rock forms under the earth's surface when magma cools and hardens. As a result of its...

A medium-sized antelope found in the savanna and woodland habitats of eastern and southern Africa. Impalas move in big herds as a strategy of protection against...

An adjective used to describe behavior that is not considered proper, polite, tactful, or good taste. Similar to rudeness, to be impertinent is often a sign of...

A historically incorrect but contemporaneously common method of referring to the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Believing, or hoping, that they had stumbled upon...

Tony Hillerman's use of the term Indian country throughout his Navajo detective series is suggestive more of a concept and a state of mind than a specific territorial...

A hospital under the jurisdiction of the Indian Health Service (HIS), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Indian Health Service was...

Also known as the American Indian wars. The term describes a series of intermittent conflicts involving the native peoples of North America and the European settlers or...

An adjective that suggests that something is inevitable, creating a feeling that an event is about to happen and that nothing will be able to stop it.

...

To formally, if not ritually, bring an individual into a specific group or organization. The initiation process can be triggered by coming of age and reaching a...

A large, fast U.S. road system that crosses state boundaries. The term refers specifically to express, or high-speed roads, constructed as a result of the Federal Aid...

A major U.S. highway that runs mostly north-south, following the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and crossing Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Part of the National...

One of the most iconic interstates in the U.S, this route followed and ultimately replaced Route 66. I-40 connects the primary urban areas mentioned in Tony Hillerman's...

Intravenous is a medical term referring to entering the body through a vein. In hospital settings, patients who are severely dehydrated or who have have difficulty...

Smooth muscle tissue, usually associated with organ function, that an individual does not consciously choose to use. Instead, the operates, or performs its function...

The muscle surrounding the pupil of the eye, which gives the eye its color.

A colloquial term referring to a medical device known as the negative pressure ventilator. The device is a large metal tank that can accommodate a human body,...

A canal or ditch dug near a water source, such as a river, to artificially control and direct water flow toward or away from nearby agricultural lands. These canals are...

A long, repetitive prayer or chant. The term is used colloquially to refer to a list or series of items, especially when spoken out loud in a monotonous, tedious manner...

J

A U.S. government official who was instrumental in founding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and who served as its director from its official initiation in...

A major thoroughfare in Burbank, California running between Camarillo Street and North Pass Avenue. The street is named for the stunning blue luminescence of the...

A mechanical device used to elevate the axle of vehicle so that one tire is raised off the ground, enabling one to access and change the tire. Most cars have a...

A jack is a mechanical device used to elevate the axle of a vehicle so that one wheel is raised off the ground, enabling one to access and change the tire. In simple...

James Norman Spuhler (1971-1992) was a physical anthropologist who studied physical anthropology at Harvard before the beginning of World War II. After Spuhler...

In Classical mythology, Jason and his Argonauts are sent by King Pelias to retrieve the Golden Fleece. If Jason successfully obtains the fleece, then he demonstrates...

A pair of fused bones that make up the lower portion of the heads of creatures. Also known as the mandible, the lower jawbone hinges just under the cheekbone and is...

Pants made from durable twilled cotton, also known as denim.

A vehicle that was originally built for World War II as a lightweight off-road vehicle, the Jeep is a four-wheel drive utility vehicle. It is known as "jeep" because...

Jerking venison is a method of treating deer meat by drying it on racks. Salt and other flavorings can be applied to assist in drying and preserving the meat and to...

A vernacular reference to the adoption of Christianity by Native Americans. In many, but not all, cases, the "road to Jesus" was long, heartbreaking, and ultimately...

Also known as a loupe, a jeweler's glass is a small, portable magnification device often containing a double lense.

One of seven Native American tribes that share the Apachean, or Southern Athabascan, language. The Jicarilla Apache originated in Canada's Mackenzie Basin....

The Jicarilla Apache are one of nine Apachean speaking tribes, and their name means “Little Basket.” The Jicarilla Apache Reservation is located in northern New...

A fictional main character in Toni Hillerman's Navajo mystery novel series. Jim Chee is one of two protagonists, both Navajo Tribal Police officers, invented by...

A colloquial reference to a Bowie knife, a fixed blade, as opposed to a switch blade, knife named after the infamous knifefighter Jim Bowie, who was killed at the...

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), also known as datura, Devil's snare, and thorn apple, is a hallucinogenic plant often used to facilitate vision and spirit quests as...

Joe Leaphorn, a fictional character created by Tony Hillerman, a Navajo detective for the Navajo Tribal Police and is typically stationed in Window Rock, Arizona....

John M. Campbell was a professor of archaeology and a former director for the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. He graduated with his...

The anatomical place in the body where two bones meet. A joint can either move or be fused. There are three types of joints. A fibrous joint occurs when two bones...

Newsmaking. Originally associated with reporting on current events via the printed page, currently journalism is understood as a richly complex negotiation of...

These evergreen conifers feature leaves that are like scales rather than the needles associated with pine trees. Junipers are well-adapted to hot, arid environments...

The term usually refers to a car (or another vehicle) that is old, broken and damaged, sometimes to the point of being completely out of use and ready to go to the junk...

The power to rule on legal issues within a certain geographic area. Different courts (for example municipal, district, or federal) will be assigned authority over...

Justin Boots is a footwear brand founded in 1879 by H. J. Justin when he moved from Indiana to Texas. The company has expanded since then and is now owned by Warren...

A written account of any criminal wrongdoings committed by a person under the age of 18. These records are private and not available to the general public. Moreover,...

K

Among the Native Pueblo peoples of the American Southwest, the term kachina (often also spelled "katsina”) generally refers to protective deities; either ancestors...

Kado is the term for the Kiowa Sun Dance, a ritual ceremony performed across the Great Plains by various tribes, including the Arapaho, Blackfoot, Comanche,Kiowa,...

The Kaibab Plateau is a plateau in northern Arizona located within the larger Colorado Plateau. The Kaibab Plateau is split between the Kaibab National Forest to the...

The name Kaibito Plateau comes from the Navajo word "K'ai'bii'Tó," which means "spring in the willows." The plateau lies between Page and Tuba City, Arizona. A request...

Kam Bimghi, also spelled Kah Bihgi, Valley is located in Apache County, Arizona. It is also known as Red Rock Valley and has sandstone buttes, spires, and arches that...

Kangaroo rats (Diposomys ordii) are a medium sized rodent with long tails and large back legs, which enable them to jump up to nine feet to escape predators. The...

Karl H. Schwerin was a professor of Ethnology and Department Chair emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. He has researched the...

Kayenta, a small town in Navajo Country, AZ, sits at the intersection of US Highways 160 (formerly Navajo Route 1) and 163 on the Navajo Nation, about 25 miles south...

Keams Canyon is a small community of about 300 people in a census designated area within the Hopi Reservation in Navajo County, Arizona. The name designates both the...

A personal item that holds sentimental significance and is cherished and kept for emotional reasons, regardless of its utility or monetary value.

Also known as Keet Siel, Kiet Siel, or in Navajo Kits'iil, the site's name means "shattered or broken house." This was the first of three archaeological sites...

Referring to Keres, a dialect cluster spoken by several groups of Pueblo people within what is now New Mexico. The dialect is divided into primary two groups, the...

Spelled "Kerrmac" in Hillerman's 1980 novel THE PEOPLE OF DARKNESS, the Kermac Nuclear Fuels Corporation, was one of several national mining companies that invested in...

A flammable liquid that is used to fuel stoves, furnaces, and lamps. It can also be burned as a commercial jet fuel. Also called paraffin oil, kerosene is a mix of...

A durable cotton material the color of sand.

In humans, the kidney is located near the spinal column, just above the hip bones. As part of the excretory system, kidneys filter toxins from the blood. These waste...

This is the name the menstruation, puberty, or maturity ceremony that celebrates a Navajo girl's entrance into womanhood. There are different accounts of the processes...

The term for biological relatives, including both men and women.

One of the largest ranches in the world, this cattle ranch is located in South Texas and was founded in 1853 by Richard King. It is 825,000 acres and was named a...

Most cultures have some form of kinship system, and depending on the culture, who is included and how the system is set up can vary. In many contemporary Western...

A Great Plains tribe whose original homeland was in the area now known as western Montana, but who migrated south along the Rocky Mountains through the 1600s and...

Christopher "Kit" Carson was one of the most famous Western explorers during the 1800s. In the 1840s, he traveled as a guide with John C. Fremont through the Great...

In Puebloan tradition, a kiva is both a sacred space to observe religious rituals as well as a society associated with a particular kiva. Kivas symbolize Puebloan...

A small town in Apache County, Arizona, located in northeast Arizona along U.S. Route 191. The Navajo name for this place is Łeeyi’tó, meaning "water in the ground."...

Klethla Valley is located in the Four Corners region of Arizona on the Navajo Nation between Black Mesa to the south, and Shonto Plateau to the north. This 10-mile long...

A hand-held cutting tool. One or two edges can be sharpened. The blade can be attached to a haft or handle, or the sharpened edge(s) can terminate in an unsharpened...

A warm winter hat made of knit wool.

In this context, knot is a measurement of airspeed and comparable to the time it takes to accelerate over the distance of one nautical mile. To express this unit as...

A term referencing influence from or connection to the the sovereign state known as Korea, which was divided into the countries of North and South Korea in the early...

A geographic region encompassing both North and South Korea. The Korean Peninsula is bounded by the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait to the south, and the Sea...

A conflict that occurred in the 1950s between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) in East Asia. After the...

According to the Zuni migration story, as the Zuni migrated in search of the Middle Place, conceptually understood to be the center of the world and what today is...

Clown figures that appear alongside kachina during Zuni and Hopi ceremonial processions and dances. With grotesque features formed from misshapen and irregular lumps...

L

A building or maze with passageways that intersect and dead-end and that are often intentionally difficult to navigate. This term comes from the Greek word λαβύρινθος...

In Puebloan tradition, a kiva is a sacred space to observe religious rituals. Kivas symbolize Puebloan emergence, or birth, into this world and their architecture...

The Laguna people of central New Mexico consist of a pueblo group that occupies six major villages, of which the political center is Old Laguna (Kawaika) on a knoll...

The Laguna Pueblo of central New Mexico consists of six major villages, of which the political center is Old Laguna (Kawaika) on a knoll above the San Jose River about...

According to the Zuni migration story, as the Zuni migrated in search of the Middle Place, conceptually understood to be the center of the world and what today is...

Lake Powell is a reservoir that was formed in 1963 with the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam and the flooding of the Colorado River. While located mainly in Utah...

A sheep that is less than one year old. Sheep (and lambs) were introduced into the Americas by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century, along with horses and...

A lance is a long-shafted throwing or thrusting device used for hunting. It is similar to a javelin, and is sometimes referred to as a spear. The lance point can be...

Land of the People, also known as Dinétah, refers to the ancestral and traditional homeland of the Navajo. Dinétah extends beyond the political boundaries of the...

A four-wheel-drive vehicle originally made by the British automobile manufacturer Jaguar-Land Rover. These sturdy vehicles were inspired by the use of the American Jeep...

The second-largest city in the state of New Mexico (after Albuquerque), Las Cruces is located at the southernmost part of the state, on the border with Mexico. The area...

Located in southeastern Nevada, the city of Las Vegas is a major American tourist destination famous for its flashy casinos, themed hotels, shopping, and large...

A way of fastening a door. Rather than a door knob, a piece of wood or metal slips over a catch or through a lock to hold the door in place. This can be a simple,...

A machine that holds a round object in place and enables working on it symmetrically it by spinning or rotating the object while a fixed sharp tool shapes, cuts, or...

Magma, or molten rock, rising in liquid form onto the earth's surface, usually by volcanic eruption. The term also applies to the solidified rock that is formed once...

Also known as volcanic plugs or necks, lava buttes form when magma hardens within a vent of an active volcano. Erosion can remove the surrounding rock, leaving the...

law

A general reference to the societal construction of and belief in "the law" as a body of order, surveillance, and discipline. The "law" can also be practiced by...

Tony Hillerman’s use of “Division of Law and Order” as part of the Navajo Nation's tribal authority is an intentional “mistake,” as there is no Division of Law and...

Also known as "island hopping," leapfrogging as a strategy occurs when two or more units support each other as they advance or retreat. While one unit changes...

A term that means deadly. Literally. If something is lethal, it will kill you. If some one has a lethal intention, his or her intention is to kill.

...

A low embankment, usually artificially constructed, that runs along the edges of a river or stream designed to protect inhabited river valleys against flooding. Ancient...

An organism that forms as a thin layer of fungal and algal substance on soil, rocks, and trees. A lichen is a symbiotic life form in which algae lives inside the...

In military or paramilitary organizations, such as police departments, a hierarchical organization of personnel exists, often called the chain of command.
...

A sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate, colloquially known as calcite. Limestone can form in two ways: the first occurs when organic remains,...

A durable and inexpensive type of flooring that was invented in the nineteenth century and became quite popular in the U.S. in the 1950s and onward. Linoleum floor...

In architecture, a lintel refers to the horizontal stone slab or wooden beam that is placed on top of the two vertical supports of a door, an entryway, or a gate. A...

Among the Navajo, a listener is one of three different types of diagnosticians who may be consulted to determine the cause of a indivudual's illness and recommend the...

Little Black Spot Mountain (also known as Little Black Spot Mesa), is the peak of a mesa coming off of the larger Black Mesa in the Navajo Nation, Arizona. The mountain...

A tributary of the Colorado River, the Little Colorado is the main drainage pathway of the Painted Desert area in northeastern Arizona. The river flows northwest from...

Also known as Shulawitsi or Deputy to the Sun, Little Fire God is one of the titles for the role a young Zuni man performs when participating in the Shalako ceremony,...

Littlewater translates to Tó ‘Áłts’íísí in Navajo. Littlewater is a small tribal chapter of the Navajo Nation location near Crownpoint, New Mexico. The Navajo Nation...

Littlewater translates to Tó ‘Áłts’íísí in Navajo. Littlewater is a small tribal chapter of the Navajo Nation location near Crownpoint, New Mexico. The Navajo Nation...

There are approximately 6,000 species of lizard, a diverse group of reptiles which are classified as part of the subgroup "lacertilia," distinguishing them as relatives...

A raised area located at the rear of some businesses and institutional buildings such as stores, factories, schools, or hospitals. Loading docks give service trucks...

A quality of richness in soil that has nearly equal amounts of clay, silt, and sand with humus, an organic substance consisting of decayed plat materials. Humus is...

A small, portable safe that has a lock, used for securing valuable objects such as important documents, money, or jewelry against theft or fire damage. ...

A loin cloth, more commonly spelled loincloth, is a piece of clothing, often rectangular, that is placed around the hips and tied with a band to cover the groin....

One of the older, major streets in Albuquerque, NM. The name Lomas means "hills" in Spanish, and is fitting with the street's route, which runs from Old Town in the...

The name given to the traumatic experience of 8,000 Navajo in 1863 when Kit Carson and the New Mexico Volunteers forced the People to leave their traditional homeland...

A single-action pistol whose barrel measures 10 inches or longer. Because the barrel of this pistol far exceeds the normal pistol barrel length of four inches, the...

One of the first firearms to be used in warfare, the long-barreled rifle is characterized by its extended barrel, and is an early example of modern rifling technology...

Also spelled longhorn, the long-horn bison was a large mammal that went extinct toward the end of the Pleistocene epoch, either because of climate change, human...

This ancient, mechanical device, found throughout the world in almost every culture, enables the user to produce various textiles by enabling the interweaving of...

Peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus that grows primarily in Texas and Mexico, is a sacramental substance used in ceremonies conducted by the Native American Church, a...

Los Alamos is a town in New Mexico made up of the townsite of Los Alamos proper and the smaller community of White Rock. The town is built atop four mesas and White...

A public works department, the road maintenance department is responsible for the repair and upkeep of all county roads.

A large culturally and racially diverse city located in southern California. Los Angeles is the second most populated city in the U.S., after New York City. The name...

This geologic feature consists of large, craggy, sandstone buttes located almost midway between Chinle and Lukachukai on the Navajo Reservation in Apache County in...

Also known as Blake's Lotaburger, Lotaburger is a fast food hamburger chain based in New Mexico. The chain was established in Albuquerque in 1952, and now has branches...

This relatively low elevation mountain is also the site of a census designation community. The mountain stands between First Mesa and Balakai Mesa, near Polacca Wash in...

Large nuts, or shaped circular metal hubs, with holes in the middle that tighten over a metal bolt in order to secure two separate objects together, for example a...

A hand tool with a hexagonal socket that fits around a lug nut. Often part of a car kit, especially one put together for changing tires.

The Lukachukai Mountains are a mountain range in northeastern Arizona that lay entirely within the Navajo Reservation. The highest point of the range is an unnamed...

A plateau located near Round Rock, Arizona along the western face of the Lukachukai Mountains. A plateau is a topographic feature that abruptly rises from the...

Mutton, or lamb, stew is a traditional and beloved component of the Navajo diet. Mutton stew consists of mutton simmered in a simple broth that may contain a variety...

M

Also spelled "machine pistol," the machine-pistol is a relatively small, concealable handgun with a high rate of fire. Machine pistols are self-loading automatic...

A work jacket used mostly by men, made of densely-woven, heavy wool. Mackinaws usually come in a plaid pattern, and have large breast and waist pockets for carrying...

Magic is the ability to influence natural objects and events through the mastery of supernatural or occult forces. In general, magic tends to fall in the realm of...

Four distinctions of Latin honors can be awarded to undergraduate, and occassionally graduate, students who have achieved high academic standing. These honors can be...

A woman who has not yet married. The word comes from the Old English word mǣden with the same definition.

In traditional Navajo belief, a thunderstorm with torrential rain is considered a male rain. A gentle, slow-moving rain, accompanied perhaps by low clouds and mist,...

A Spanish term meaning “the bad country,” used by early Spanish settlers in the Southwest to describe regions that have a rough barren landscape covered in un-eroded...

An iconic off-white file folder with an extended tab commonly used for holding and organizing documents. Such folders were originally made of manila hemp, and the name...

A fictional canyon mentioned in Listening Woman, published in 1978, the third novel in Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series. In this novel, Joe Leaphorn drives...

Also known as Da’ah’eh Halani in Navajo, Many Farms is a small, primarily Navajo community about 15 miles north of Chinle, with a trading post, chapter house, and...

The Navajo (Diné) tribe is comprised of more than forty family lineages, or clans, that claim common ancestry. According to traditional lore, the T ł 'ízí lání (Many...

Also known as Chinle Wash, Many Ruins Canyon is the repository for the various tributaries of Canyon de Chelly in northeastern Arizona. The red sandstone walls...

Marble is a metamorphic rock that forms when limestone is subjected to heat and pressure underground, for example during the regional shifting of the Earth's crust or...

The smallest uniformed branch of the United States Armed Forces and part of the U.S. Department of the Navy. The Marine Corps is a mobile combined-arms task force for...

A small state located in the east-central coast of the United States of America, named after the wife of the British King Charles I. This state was one of the...

Generally speaking, in most indigenous traditions, including the Pueblo and Navajo cultures, when a dancer dons a mask for a specific ceremony, that dancer becomes...

Large mammals, related to elephants, that lived in the Americas unitl the late Pleistocene era, which ended about 12,000 years ago. Mastodons were smaller and less...

McKinley County is located in the northwest portion of the state of New Mexico atop the San Juan Plateau. It was created in February 1899 and named for William McKinley...

A relatively level area of natural land that is covered with grass and often wild flowers. Meadows can be found in low as well as high altitudes, and in a variety of...

An officer of the law who is in charge of post-mortem investigations when cause of death is under suspicion or during homicide cases. Medical examiners are...

In the context of Native American belief systems, "medicine" is an Anglicized term referring of a range of concepts that focus on the connections between an...

A small pouch, usually made of deer skin, which contains a few items that have totemic, spiritual, or ceremonial value. These items can consist of small objects such...

People of various Native American tribes often carry with them a small pouch, usually made of deer skin, which contains a few items that have totemic, spiritual, and...

Medicine man is an Anglicized term that refers to traditional Native American healers. However, each tribe has unique understandings about the roles and...

Also called a medicine bundle, a medicine pouch is a traditional Native American container for various items that have totemic, spiritual, or supernatural power. The...

An object, usually small and personal, that is kept for sentimental value as a representation or reminder of a person, place, or past event.

Mercedes is a German manufacturer of top-end luxury vehicles. Convertibles are iconic automobiles that bring together the freedom of mobility with the expansiveness...

A chemical element which at room temperature appears as a silvery metal in liquid state. In nature, it can mostly be found in droplet form in cinnabar (mercury...

A breed of sheep, originally from Spain, with fine crimped wool that is often used to make light sweaters. Merino sheep are medium sized sheep with very wooly faces....

A flat-topped hill or plateau of rock with one or more steep sides, usually rising abruptly from a surrounding plain. Commonly found in arid environments, mesas are...

A national park located in southwestern Colorado covering a broad cultural landscape that includes numerous prehistoric cliff dwellings.In 1906, President Theodore...

Mesquite is a spiny, desert legume which grows in two forms: a low-to-the-ground prickly shrub and a tree that grows up to fifty feet tall. Mesquite grows in thickets...

Also referenced as a meal stone by Hillerman, a metate is a slab of rock with either a concave or flat surface that is used for manually grinding grain, ochre, or other...

A law enforcement attendant who monitors street parking or parking lots, and issues tickets and fines for vehicles that violate parking regulations. The term refers...

The term was initially used to describe a confrontation between three individuals, each of whom had a gun. In a duel, which occurs between two individuals, the person...

Located in Teec Nos Pos, near the crossroads, of U.S. Highways 191 and 160.

A chapter house is a meeting place for Navajo people...

A small community on the Navajo Nation Reservation off of US Highway 160 at a steep rocky crossing of Chinle Wash near Dinnehotso. Mexican Water has a trading post and...

Mexico is a federal republic that borders the United States to the south. The Mexican states of Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila de Zaragoza share...

A shiny, variously colored, often transparent mineral commonly found as flakes or even sheets in granite and other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

...

An archival, or preservation and storage, medium in which written material, such as official or personal letters, newspapers, and other printed ephemera, are...

The Zuni phrase Halona I'tawana translates as the "Middle Place," and was so named by the Zuni because of its significance as the temporal, spatial, and ceremonial...

Middle Way is another term used for the Navajo Way, hózhǫ́, the spiritual and philosophical intention of keeping one's life in balance and peace. Equilibrium is the key...

Movement from one place to another. In the natural world, groups of animals, including humans, migrate together, undertaking often difficult journeys due to seasonal...

The discipline of collecting, analyzing, and utilizing information, or intelligence, gathered from an enemy state or region. This kind of information gathering and...

The largest city in the state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee is located in the southeastern corner of the state, on the shore of Lake Michigan. The region was inhabited by...

A very expensive coat made out of mink pelt. Mink is a small, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal known for its soft, lustrous fur. Native to Europe and North America,...

Also known as Second Mesa, and sometimes spelled Mishongovi, Mishongnovi is one of three villages located on Second Mesa within the network and community of the Hopi...

An explosive warhead, propelled by a rocket, that reaches its target by using a guidance system. When a missile is used underwater it is known as a torpedo, and when it...

A small town known for its access to some of the most popular hiking, mountain biking, and rafting areas in the Southwestern U.S. including Canyonlands and Arches...

A type of shoe or boot traditionally worn by Native American peoples. Moccasins were hand-made, using leather made of deer, moose, elk, or bison skin, and could have...

A bird (Mimus polyglottos) that mimics the songs of other birds and that can reproduce up to 20 different songs in a short amount of time. The mockingbird is a gray...

The Moenkopi Plateau is located to the west and southwest of the Hopi Mesas in north-central Arizona. Near the communities of Tuba City and Moenkopi, this vast...

A tributary of the Little Colorado River, the Moenkopi Wash is a 90-mile long stream that runs through the Moenkopi Plateau in northern Arizona, along the border...

Moenkopi, in northeastern Arizona, is a Hopi cultural stronghold embedded within the Navajo Reservation. Moenkopi has been an agricultural center for the Hopi people...

A vast rugged escarpment that stretches over about 200 miles along the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in east-central Arizona. The Mogollon Rim was named after...

The mole is a small burrowing rodent, an industrious and persistent tunneler that is sensitive to light, sound, and vibration.

...

Words with only one syllable. Monosyllabic can also refer to a person who speaks only in one-syllable words.

Known as Nayé̆nĕzganĭ in Diné, Monster Slayer is the eldest of the twins born of Changing Woman. In Navajo mythology, the twins Monster Slayer and Born of Water were...

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, called Tse'Bii'Ndzisgaii in Navajo, is a Tribal Park located within the Navajo Reservation on the Arizona-Utah border near the Four...

A reference to the character of Othello in Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. Othello, who was referred to as "the Moor of Venice" in the play, was a black...

A room, usually in a hospital, where the bodies of deceased people are kept refrigerated until they are taken to be buried or cremated. Hospital morgues also hold...

A south-southeast trending ridge near the edge of the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona. This ridge is north of Crooked Ridge and northeast of Echo Cliffs and is...

A laboratory room dedicated to the examination of morphology, which is a branch in biology and medicine that studies the form and structure of organisms. In medicine...

A mortuary, sometimes referred to as a funeral home, is a funeral service agency that specializes in planning and conducting burials, cremations, and memorial...

At the end of Hillerman's 1973 re-telling of the Zuni origin story The Boy who made Dragon Fly, when the wise boy claims that some day his little sister will become...

In the Old Testament, Mount Sinai was where God appeared before Moses, gave him the Ten Commandments, and instructed him on how to lead the Israelites, who were on...

At 11,306 feet, Mount Taylor is the highest peak in the San Mateo range, located about 15 miles northeast of Grants, New Mexico. In the winter its snow-capped peak is...

Also known as cougar or puma, the mountain lion is a large wild cat native to the Western Hemisphere. Mountain lions can be found in a variety of habitats across...

The Mountain Way, or the Mountain Chant, refers to a Navajo ceremony, performed by a singer or medicine man (called a hataałii in Navajo), that is performed to...

The informal name for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada's police force, which operates on both the federal and provincial levels. The force was founded in...

The Mud Clan originated with Changing Woman, one of the most important and benevolent deities in the navajo cosmology. By rubbing the skin from various parts of her...

In several Pueblo traditions, the Mudhead Clown is a masked figure who works as disciplinarian, joker, and village cryer. The early Hopi variation of this figure is...

A formal portrait that usually pairs a frontal and a profile image capture of an individual's head and shoulders. First used in the mid-nineteenth century, mug shots...

A mid-sized hooved mammal with a short head and mane and long ears that is the offspring of two different species -- the donkey and the horse. Most mules are sterile...

Mule deer are easy to identify due to their large mule-like ears. They are brownish-gray in color, have a white rump patch, and a small white tail with a black tip....

A multiple intercontinental re-entry vehicle (MIRV) is a kind of ballistic missile that is capable of firing multiple war heads simultaneously at a single target....

Founded in 1937 by Mary Cabot Wheelwright, a wealthy Bostonian, in collaboration with Hosteen Klah, a Navajo singer or hataalii, the museum's purpose was to preserve...

The meat from a mature sheep. Mutton stew and roast mutton are today main staples of the Navajo diet. Sheep were introduced into the Americas by the Spanish in the...

The opening located on the end of a gun's barrel. This is the point from which ammunition is expelled. At times, because of the small explosion that creates the force...

In general usage, the noun "mystic" refers to an individual whose introspection and resulting intuition manifests as a predilection for the spiritual, the...

The collected body of narratives that form the base for a world view, philosophy, and religion of a particular culture. Such narratives, or myths, tell stories that...

N

A New Mexico state highway that originates in Grants, New Mexico and heads first south and then roughly west through the Ramah Navajo and Zuni reservations, until it...

A dry river located in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin area of the Navajo Reservation in northwestern New Mexico. Although the exact location and the name of the wash could not be...

A Navajo term which means “those who wander around,” in reference to Spaniards who conducted expeditions into the Southwest and Great Plains during the 1500s, beginning...

Natural and pharmaceutically-derived substances used to relieve pain that can cause stupor, sleep, euphoria, and addiction. The most common form of narcotics are...

An individual employed by a government agency to police the use of illicit substances. Also known as a narc.

Although the Narcotics Control Division of the Justice Department sounds familiar, it is a fictional agency that functions as a not-so-veiled reference to the U.S....

Also spelled Naat'áanii Tsoh, Natani Tso, meaning "Big Leader” in Navajo, is an iconic volcanic plug, or lava butte, northwest of Kam Bimghi (Chinle) Valley in...

One way to refer to the various indigenous peoples of the Americas, especially those who reside on and off reservations in the U.S.. Pueblos indigenas, Aborigen,...

Formed in 1918 as a Pan-Indian movement and in response to government abuses and relocations, the Native American Church synthesized Christian beliefs with the...

An academic field that is dedicated to the study of the history, geography, literature, politics, and culture of indigenous people in the Americas, with a particular...

Also known as Diné College, Navajo Community College is a two-year community college located in Tsaile, Arizona, with branches in various towns across the Navajo...

An Anglicized reference to the what the Navajo would call Diné Bikéyah, the traditional Navajo homeland, which is roughly demarcated by the four sacred mountains of the...

Also known as Diné Bizaad, part of the the Apachean subgroup of the Athabaskan branch of the Na-Dené language family. Diné means “the people” or “children of the...

Also known as “Naatsis’áán” in Diné. A dome-shaped mountain (elevation 10,388 ft) that straddles the Utah-Arizona border, with its highest peak on the Utah side. It is...

Although the Navajo Nation can in some senses refer to the Navajo Reservation as a territory, and in other senses to the Navajo as a people, the Navajo Nation is a...

While there are many different versions of the Navajo origin myth, general aspects of the myth are present in all versions. In the beginning First Man, First Woman,...

The Navajo, also known by their preferred name, the Diné, are the largest federally recognized Native American tribe in the United States. Their reservation is spread...

Also referred to colloquially as "the rez," the Navajo Reservation covers 27,425 square miles of territory and includes portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern...

The Navajo Road Department is a part of the Navajo Department of Transportation and is responsible for the building and maintaining roads in and between Navajo Nation...

Now known as Arizona Highway 160, Navajo Route 1 is also the portion of US Route 160 that runs through the Navajo Nation in Arizona between Tuba City and Kayenta. From...

This road, along with Rt. 64, form what is known as the "Dinetah Scenic Road" through the Navajo Nation in Arizona. From this route drivers can access Canyon de...

Because Navajo routes are mostly rural dirt roads that are familiar only to local residents living on the Navajo Nation Reservation, it is often hard to determine their...

On current maps of the Navajo Reservation there is no mention of Navajo Route 8. However, Bureau of Indian Affairs documents mention the construction of a portion of...

A Navajo Nation highway that runs from U.S. Highway 491, near Twin Lakes, NM, to Crownpoint, NM. From here the route extends until it intersects with Highway 57. At...

The Navajo people probably learned weaving skills from their Pueblo neighbors in what is now the Southwestern U.S. in the early 1600s. Traditionally it was women who...

Also known as Tó Sido in Navajo, these hot springs were the site of a small community with a trading post until the 1950s. Prehistoric Chacoan roads have been...

lso known as "Indian tacos," this is a dish popular among the Navajo people of the Southwestern U.S. It is made out of a base of fry-bread, with a combination of...

Also referred to as "Indian time," This is a colloquial phrase that is used to indicate slowness. The phrase is based on the difference in approach to time between...

Pressured to cooperate with the U.S. federal government in order retain at least some vestige of recognition as a sovereign nation, the Navajo Nation transitioned...

Also known as the Navajo Nation Police, this entity is a law enforcement agency on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The Navajo Tribal Police were originally established...

When Hillerman refers to “Navajo Way,” he is referencing the concept of hózhǫ́. Hózhǫ́ is the state in which all living things are ordered, in balance, and walking in...

In Navajo, another word for "wolf" is "mai-coh," meaning witch. The Navajo fear of wolves derives not from the nature of the animal but rather from the potential for...

A small, mostly dry river that is located on the Navajo Reservation, in Apache County, Arizona. The Navajo name Nazlini means “Makes a Turn Flowing.” The name is...

A state located at the margin between the Great Plains and what would become the Midwest region of the U.S., Nebraska was part of the territorial home- and rangeland...

The plural form of the word nebula. Nebulae are interstellar clouds of gas and dust that exist outside the solar system. There are two kinds of nebulae:...

The male children of one's siblings. Nephew is also a traditional term of formal endearment, one that signifies the relationship of affinity and mentorship that...

The 36th state to join the union, Nevada sent their entire constitution to the U.S. capitol via telegram to speed up the admission process. The state is the seventh...

A large plateau located in the northern quadrant of Nevada, approximately 60 miles from the eastern border between Nevada and Utah. The East Humboldt Range is a...

The Atlantic Northeast region along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. It includes the states of Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and...

New Mexico has a long and storied history due to the rich presence of living indigenous traditions that stretch back before European contact; its history of settler...

The main laboratory complex of the state of New Mexico's Department of Health, which regularly conducts tests concerning public health and safety. The laboratory...

A division within New Mexico's Department of Public Safety, the New Mexico State Police Force maintains 12 district stations in the state. The department began as a...

The city was founded by Dutch colonists in 1624 and was first given the name New Amsterdam. In 1664, British colonists took over the region and renamed the city New...

A reputable morning daily newspaper based out of New York City that was first published in 1851. The New York Times is known for its editorial excellence and reporting...

A 15-mile-long mesa located at the center of the Painted Desert in Arizona, which is part of the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation. It was named after John S. Newberry,...

An popular and iconic American newsmagazine that began its circulation in 1933 and was created by former Time magazine foreign-news editor Thomas J. C. Martyn. This...

Also known as the Night Chant, the Night Way is one of the most commonly performed ceremonials in the Navajo tradition. The Night Way (Yébîchai in Navajo) is a...

The common nighthawk, also called a bullbat, is a small nocturnal bird that is not related to the hawk, although the two do share some coloring patterns. The...

One of a chain of volcanic mesas and buttes that lies between Interstate 40 and the Hopi mesas on the Navajo Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The area is...

A toxic chemical liquid that is a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids. The nitroglycerin formula is highly explosive and is used as an important ingredient in most...

This is a fictional wash on the Navajo reservation that Joe Leaphorn mentions in his letter to Bergen McKee in regards to reports of Navajo witchcraft in the area....

The Nokaito (also known as Nakaito) bench, which is called Naakaiitó or Mexican Spring in Navajo, is an elevated plain running north and south just to the west of the...

Not capable of inducing disease.

The Shalako Ceremony is one of the most significant religious ceremonies for the Zuñi people and occurs near the winter solstice as the ceremonial year draws to a...

O

French for "object of art" or "art object." An objet d'art is usually small, possesses unique artistic value, and is cherished for its beauty or special artistic...

A naturally occurring mineral derivative that was, and remains, in use by many indigenous peoples around the world as a pigment for marking bodies, hand tools,...

A reference to a long heroic journey with many tasks and adventures that often changes the fortune of the traveler. A reference to the epic poem, The Odyssey, written...

A French dish that literally means "eggs in jelly." The dish is composed of a poached egg encased in savory, broth-infused gelatin, in which smoked salmon, sweet...

An object that is given in thanks, generosity, or even supplication, often to a higher power. An offering usually consists of something that is precious, of symbolic...

In U.S. police departments, officer refers to a low-ranking member of the police force.

Ogden is a small city located in northern Utah near the Wasatch Mountains. The Great Salt Lake, located to the west, can be viewed from the city. The city is known...

In Western folklore, an ogre is a mythical giant beast that eats humans and is often the evil villain in folktales or children’s stories. These creatures are often...

A small community located in northwestern New Mexico, on the eastern border of the Navajo Reservation. The Navajo Nation government system consists of five agencies (...

One of the largest islands off the coast of Japan, Okinawa is an island, a prefecture, and a city. The island was annexed by Japan in 1879 under the Meiji Government,...

Oklahoma is a Choctaw Indian word that means “red people” and is derived from the words for people (okla) and red (humma). Currently, 39 individual tribes have their...

The capital, and largest city, in the state of Oklahoma. The city was founded in 1889, after homesteaders in the area staked claims to farmlands that were originally...

A general reference to a people's ancestors, who are typically understood to be a repository of wisdom and experience, upon which the younger generations can, and...

A fictional series of murders created by Tony Hillerman in his 1978 Navajo detecitve novel Listening Woman. In the novel, Detective Joe Leaporn has never heard of the...

A state of being where one has an infinite knowledge of the world and an understanding of everything.

According to the Navajo Creation Myth, in the process of emerging from the underworlds and settling on their land, the People (Diné) faced many dangers from the natural...

An expression referring to a way of thinking that is very focused, or even obsessed with, one thing in particular. The term one-track probably has its origin in the...

A descriptive word meaning difficult, burdensome, or psychologically challenging.

A Hopi village located on the Hopi Reservation within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The village was established before...

ore

The term refers to mineral deposits (typically metals) in the earth's crust that can be extracted for various uses, such as for use as pigment when ground, as well as...

A very large hauling truck used in mining operations to transport mined minerals and/or debris.

A genus of large antelope, the oryx is native to the various arid parts of Africa. This herbivore is well-adapted to surviving in dry conditions and can live up to ten...

The Oscura Foothills are the low-rise hills located along the base of the Oscura Mountains, a range in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

The Oscura Mountains are a landform located in the northern portion of White Sands Missile Base in Lincoln County, New Mexico, just north of the San Andres Mountains...

Part of the Zuni Mountain Range, Oso Ridge is located on the northeastern boundary of the Ramah Navajo Indian Reservation in Western New Mexico, about 30 miles...

A tragedy in five parts written by William Shakespeare between 1603-1604. The full name of the play is OTHELLO, THE MOOR OF VENICE. It was first published in 1622,...

While the most common use of this word is to refer to the Western Plateau and northern plains of Australia, the actual definition references any remote region of back...

An exposed upthrust of rock that appears to break through the earth's surface. These rocky protrusions are produced in areas with extreme or persistent erosion, where...

A rock formation in which the top part protrudes forward horizontally to hang over the vertical parts of the rock face.

owl

There are over 200 species of owl, a mostly nocturnal bird of prey found on almost every continent. Owls eat small rodents, insects, and other birds. Their acute powers...

A spring located along Indian Service Route 32 in the Navajo Nation Reservation and near Shiprock and Narbona Pass in San Juan County, New Mexico. Springs are areas on...

A trioxigenic gas that is light blue in color and has a distinctive sharp smell. Ozone is a form of oxygen, but while an oxygen molecule contains two atoms, an ozone...

P

A 10-mile-long mesa located within the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. This mesa is an extension of Hopi Third Mesa. In Navajo, it is called...

Originally, Page was a temporary housing site for the Glen Canyon Dam construction workers and their families and was called the Page Government Camp after the Bureau...

This region, known as "Halchíítah" or "Among the Red Areas" in Navajo, is a vast expanse of badlands and desert landscape in Arizona. The exposed colorful layers of...

There are two groups of Paiute people, Northern and Southern, and although there are some similarities between them, the Northern and Souther Paiutes are each made up...

The earliest settlers of the Americas. Entering the American continents via the Bering land bridge, an exposed shelf of land between Russia and Alaska, Paleo-indians...

Meaning "hard stick" in Spanish and also known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, this 120-mile-long, 20-mile-wide canyon is located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo....

A small, fully enclosed truck, similar to a pickup truck with a shell, except that the "shell" is part of the vehicle's body.

An overwhelming feeling of anxiety, often accompanied by feelings of fear, nervousness, and even dread. When one feels panic, two primary survival impulses manifest...

A variety of live performance where the story is conveyed with body language and facial movements, not spoken words. While the Romans had a form of pantomime similar to...

A process in which stone flakes are removed from a sstone tool so that the flake "scars" are parallel. Parallel flaking is used for both finish and detail work on stone...

In architecture, a low, protective wall that encircles a roof, tower, or that runs along an entrenchment to offer concealment. Parapets are also found in natural...

An array of objects or accessories that are utilized for a particular purpose or a specific activity.

A soldier in the army who is part of a special unit that is trained to jump out of airplanes using prarachutes.

Originally called the United Airport, this airport has undergone five name changes since it was built in 1930. This airport is located in Burbank, California and was...

The act of surveillance, with the potential for taking disciplinary actions, as well as offering other peace-keeping services, throughout a particular area. In small...

To obtain a cash loan by providing a material object as collateral. The act of pawning, also known as "hocking," usually via a pawnbroker at a pawn shop, has been in...

In his Tony Hillerman 1980 Navajo detective novel PEOPLE OF DARKNESS, he mentions the Hopi Peach Tree clan, a kinship group associated with the area around Moenkopi,...

Also known as an air gun. A weapon that uses compressed gas to fire a projectile, as opposed to a firearm which uses a propellant, such as gunpowder, in order to fire...

Also known as Penn State. A state-supported four-year higher education institution located in the city of State College, Pennsylvania. The university was first...

Hillerman uses the term as an informal reference to a Navajo cult within the peyote religion, a pan-Indian, semi-Christian religious movement. The rituals of the peyote...

A coffee maker that allows boiling water to rise up through a narrow tube and then drip down through a perforated basket filled with ground coffee. While coffee...

In the context of oil drilling, perforation means punching a hole in the cemented casing tube of the oil well in order to reach down to the reservoir. This is normally...

A type of igneous rock that can form intrusively, under the earth’s crust, or as part of an extrusive flow of lava. Once perlite cools it breaks into concentric pieces...

A shallow, see-through container used to cultivate living organisms in a laboratory setting.

Fossilized wood that is often banded in color, for which it is highly valued.Because of the fossilization process, which replaces organize materials with minerals,...

A company that specializes in providing technical support, as well as testing instruments, for the petroleum and chemical industries. Petrolab also offers consultation...

Petroleum occurs naturally near the earth's surface in liquid, gas, and solid forms. The word petroleum in Greek literally means rock oil. Petroluem is a naturally-...

Peyote is a small, spineless cactus found in Mexico and Texas. When ingested, the plant has psychedelic qualities and causes hallucination, trances, and visions for its...

A sacred service in the tradition of the Native American Church, in which healing, spiritual cleansing, and vision quests are conducted through praying, chanting, and...

A communal and spiritual leader in the Native American church. Formed in 1918 as a Pan-Indian movement and in response to government abuses and relocations, the Native...

The informal term for the Native American Church, which was established in 1918 as a Pan-Indian movement and in response to government abuses and relocations. The...

A peyote gathering of the Native American Church has a crescent-shaped moon drawn on the ground in sand that functions as the altar for the ceremony. This half-circle,...

The belief system upon which the Native American Church is established. Founded in 1918 as a Pan-Indian movement and in response to government abuses and relocations,...

A sacred ceremony in the tradition of the Native American Church, in which healing, spiritual cleansing, and vision quests are conducted through praying, chanting, and...

A description generally used for tapered cylindrical objects that are thought to resemble a penis in shape.

A retail location where medicines and drugs are prepared and dispensed by qualified pharmacists who have gone to school to specialize in drug therapy and the...

The largest city in Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn in 1682 during the U.S. Colonial period. Philadelphia is popularly known as the “city of brotherly love” from...

Philip Bock was a University of New Mexico Presidential Professor in Ethnology. He graduated with his doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1962 and taught...

The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, operated by the city of Phoenix, has been the primary airport for the state of Arizona since 1935. When it opened, there...

The capital city of the state of Arizona, Phoenix is also known as the “Valley of the Sun.” It was originally settled as an agricultural area that modeled its early...

Phosphorescence is a luminescence (or light) that occurs without the presence of combustion. Phosphorescence also occurs due to slow oxidation, or the release of oxygen...

A way of referring to the exchange of an illicit substance for money, usually as part of a prearranged plan. Either the money, the illicit substance, or both are left...

A vehicle with an enclosed cab and an open rear compartment for transporting cargo.

A visual symbol through which a message is communicated. Pictographs were used in ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian and the Chinese as early forms of written...

The substance in an object that reflects various elements of the light spectrum while absorbing others. The element of the spectrum that are reflected become the color...

A journey or trek, sometimes physical, sometimes metaphorical, and sometimes spiritual, with the purpose of fulfilling some sense of material, moral, or belief-based...

The piñón or pinyon, is a type of pine tree that is native to the American Southwest and is common in the woodlands of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada,...

A large blue-grey song bird similar to a crow, the piñon jay is found in the Western Great Basin of North American, including the U.S. Southwest, especially in...

Spanish for spotted or painted with color, the pinto is a horse with a spotted coat of different colors. Pintos are most often associated with the Plains Indians of...

A smoking implement with a hollow bowl attached to a long hollow stem. Tobacco is placed in the bowl, and once lit, the smoker inhales on the stem.

The term Piper refers to a small, general aviation aircraft, usually used for private flights. The Piper Aircraft Corporation was established in 1937 by William T....

A pistol is a firearm, or gun, that can be used with one hand, leaving the other hand free for defense or the use of another weapon. There are two main classes of...

A central component in many engines and mechanisms, a piston is short, cylindrical part that moves up and down inside a fitting tube as a result of expanding gas or...

In Tony Hillerman’s novel, The Dark Wind, Piutki appears to be a small community located on the Hopi Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. There is, however, no...

A buttoned shirt, usually made of flannel or soft, twilled wool, with a chechered or tartan pattern.

This regional classification is used to describe the variety of distinct Native American tribes who traditionally called the Great Plains and prairie regions of North...

A mixture of lime or gypsum, sand, and water that is applied to the walls of structures as a sealant. In the Southwest, many pueblos are made of adobe, which comes from...

A type of high quality glass, characterized by its exceptionally smooth surface, which is produced by the grinding and polishing of large sheets of rolled glass. Plate...

An elevated, fairly level expanse of land raised sharply above adjacent land.

An architectural feature found in the built environments of many cultures around the world, plazas are open spaces for public functions around which structures form an...

A cluster of seven stars located outside of our solar system. Historically, the Pleiades were very important to many world cultures. For people in the Northern...

Also known in a general sense as "the Ice Age," the Pleistocene Epoch ended between 13,000 - 9,000 years ago and is the most recent period when the Northern Hemisphere...

A solid, durable material made of acrylic plastic. Plexiglass can be molded into transparent, heat and shatter resistant sheets that resemble glass. Plexiglass is the...

A hand tool used to grab, pinch, pull, bend, cut,turn, twist, or hold objects depending on formation of their pincers, also known as their nose.

A brand of American car, first introduced by the Chrysler corporation in the 1920s as a low-cost sub-brand that would compete with Chevrolet and Ford, the two-most...

A wood panel that is manufactured by gluing thin sheets of wood together. Although the wood sheets are thin, the combination of multiple layers of wood and resin (...

Officially known as the Utah State Prison in Draper, this correction facility was opened in 1951 and today can house approximately 4,500 inmates. The Draper Prison...

One of the major drainage pathways of the Black Mesa plateau, located on the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona. Black Mesa rises to about 7,000 feet above sea level...

An ethnic slur directed at individuals of Polish descent, suggesting characteristics of ignorance and stupidity.

A type of photography where light is used in combination with special paper to create instant photographs. The Polaroid camera was invented by Edwin H. Land, who...

Also known as the North Star, the Pole Star is actually three stars whose light merge to create a single bright glow, the brightest star of the constellation Ursa Minor...

Unless stated otherwise, Hillerman's use of "pollen" refers to yellow corn pollen (or tádídíín in Navajo), which is a sweet tasting, yellow-colored powder that is...

A ponderosa pine is a large coniferous evergreen tree, with long pine needles, that can grows over 70 feet in height. Ponderosa are found throughout the western United...

Porcupines are large herbivorous rodents with a coat of sharp spines, also known as quills. These quills are actually strands of hair coated with layers of keratin, a...

The largest city in the U.S. state of Oregon, the southernmost state in the Pacific Northwest region. Portland is situated close to the confluence of the Willamette and...

In Latin, the term literally means "after death." In a medical context, postmortem refers to a thorough examination of a dead body in order to determine the cause and...

A drum that is made by filling a ceramic pot with water and then covering it with a buckskin. A pot drum is played by hitting the stretched hide with a looped drumstick...

More commonly referred to as "pot sherd," pot shard is a colloquial term for ceramic sherds, common artifacts found in archaeological sites. Currently, archaeologists...

The Potawatomi tribe is a Native American group that originally resided in southwest Michigan and whose language is in the Algonquin family. The tribe worked under a...

A degraded and eroded spot in the road caused by the combination of standing water and the friction of passing vehicles. Potholes develop in areas where the engineering...

Jars, bowls, and other containers shaped out of ceramic material, such as earthenware (or clay), stoneware, and porcelain, which are subsequently fired, or super-heated...

The Hopi word for "witch," either male or female. The Hopi believe that witchcraft was involved in the earlier underworlds and played a role in the people's bad...

A mechanical tool used to fell trees or cut wood using a loop of chain that is driven around a bar by a motorized power head. The chain of a power saw is comprised of...

Belonging to the squirrel family of rodents, the prairie dog is a very social burrowing rodent who lives in colonies, called towns, that can include up to several...

Prayer plumes are feathers that are attached to prayer sticks for a variety of rituals, ceremonies, and devotions specific to a number of pueblo and Southwestern tribes...

The sheer face of a cliff or mountain.

A large or powerful creature that preys on smaller and weaker creatures. The term typically refers to a carnivorous animal that hunts other animals for survival. Common...

To think about or plan in advance, signifying conscious intent.

A technique for shaping a stone edge by pressing, usually with a bone, from the blade edge in toward the "cheek," or the thicker part of the stone being sharpened. The...

An individual who is authorized to perform as a mediator between the people and a transcendent power. The priest's authority enables him or her to perform in both a...

Referring to the very beginning of earth or the first age of an event.

Traces or evidence in the form of fingerprints left behind at a crime scene.

A reference to an outline of, for example, a person's face, or of information. In the second example, the information provided can take the form of a description, a...

The Prostitution Way is a Navajo ceremonial that protects people against frenzy witchcraft, which is a form of witchcraft believed to cause people to lose their minds....

Someone who is part of the Federal Witness Protection Program, a program run by the U.S. Marshals Service to protect witnesses or whistleblowers as a result of their...

A mind-altering substance that induces a state of heightened awareness and perception, often accompanied by hallucinations. Psychedelic plants such as peyote, which is...

Associated with the treatment of a mental illness or disorder by talking to a mental health practitioner about feelings, dreams, and behavior patterns.

...

A Native American building form found along the Rio Grande in New Mexico and west as far as the Hopi mesas in Arizona. Pueblos are clustered, modular structures...

The term Pueblo refers to a diverse range of Native Americans living in pueblos in New Mexico and Arizona. These groups share similar world views and historically have...

A small Navajo community located in northwestern New Mexico, on the eastern edge of the Chaco Canyon. Pueblo Pintado is one of the many chapters of the Navajo Nation, whose...

A clothing garment, usually a winter sweater, that is put on by being pulled over the head rather than buttoned or zipped up.

Also known as cougar or mountain lion, the puma is a large wild cat native to the Western Hemisphere. Pumas can be found in a variety of habitats across North and South...

A badge of honor awarded by the U.S. military to soldiers who were wounded or killed while serving their military duty. The medal was the first U.S. army decoration,...

During the Korean War (1950-1953), South Korean and United Nations forces were forced to retreat to Pusan Beachhead, now known as Busan, after a series of unsuccessful...

Q

A vernacular expression that indicates a sudden, rapid, and radical change.

A place from which large amounts of stone have been extracted, often leaving a deep pit and a fragmented landscape.

R

A long-eared mammal known for its prominent front teeth and powerful hindlegs, with which it hops and leaps rather than runs. The most common rabbits in the Southwest...

When rabbit and coyote are mentioned together, Tony Hillerman is most likely referring to a Navajo reference in which Coyote chases Rabbit, yet Rabbit gets the best of...

A pleasant smelling small shrub with hairy branches and groups of yellow flowers found across the American Great Basin. It provides nesting and cover to small birds and...

Radar, an acronym for "radio detection and ranging," was developed and in use by several nations as early as World War II. Radar is a system that detects objects and...

A device that emits electromagnetic waves. These waves can be used to transmit sound at different frequencies, and the sound is picked up by radios tuned to those...

In physics, radioactivity refers to the spontaneous emission of electromagnetic energy and subatomic particles in certain substances. Radioactive release of energy...

In Hillerman's Navajo detective fiction, "radioman" is an anachronistic reference to what are today known as dispatchers, individuals who work in a dispatch center to...

The former name of what is now Historic Route 66, the main street in Gallup, which runs parallel to the railroad and crosses the town from east to west.

...

The indigenous peoples of the U.S. Southwest each have some version of a rain dance ceremonial. This dance is meant to honor the relationship between the people and the...

One of the members of the Zuni Council of the Gods, Sayatasha, or Longhorn, wears a mask that bears a long sweeping horn. The horn is evocative of the trailing walls of...

Rainbow Man is a yé’ii, or supernatural being, found in Navajo mythology, often employed as a symbol of harmony by signifying an attentiveness to Talking God, the...

A broad expanse of canyonlands inclusive of much of the Colorado Plateau and the Mogollon Rim, the Rainbow Plateau covers territory in the Navajo Nation, Arizona, and...

ram

The term used to describe an adult male sheep, one that has not been castrated.

The Ramah Navajo chapter is located in Ramah, New Mexico and serves the Ramah band of Navajo, who have occupied the area near Zuni Pueblo since the sixteenth century...

Originally settled by Mormon pioneers, who intended to perform missionary work in Zuni and Navajo communities, Ramah sits between the Zuni and Ramah Navajo Reservations...

A person who owns, manages, or is in charge of a ranch.Throughout much of the rural Southwestern U.S., which remains predominantly rural, there are many traditional,...

A police record for an individual that records his or her criminal history, including arrests, convictions, misdemeanors, and warnings. This term is primarily used in...

A venomous pit viper best known for the segmented rattle at the end of its tail. Pit vipers find their prey, even in the dark, through heat-sensing pits located on...

A word that refers to noisy, boisterous behavior.

The common raven is a large, heavy-billed black bird. Ravens are larger than crows and have more rugged plumage. Ravens are also the largest perching bird, and can have...

A person who is generally thin and has prominent bone structure.

A reference to the moon leaving the sky as the sun rises. In Navajo mythology the moon and sun were created by First Man and First Woman. The sun is given a blue mask...

A term in microbiology referring to substances used in a chemical reaction to detect, measure, examine, or produce other substances.

A real estate agent who manages buying, selling, and leasing private and/or commercial property.

A large armchair that can be tilted back for greater comfort. Recliners often also have a built-in adjustable footrest.

A school that trains police cadets to work in the police force. In the U.S. there are federal and state police training courses and different states have different...

A bitter red sauce that ranges in heat, or spiciness, from mild to scorching, derived from reconstituted dried and ground red chile pods. In New Mexico, chile is a...

In his mystery novel People of Darkness (1980), Tony Hillerman refers to the Red Deuce Mine as the location of a fatal explosion that killed many local workers. There...

One of the clans of the Navajo people. There are at least sixty known Navajo clans, many of which are named after specific places located on or around what is today the...

Referred to simply as Red Lake in Hillerman's fiction, this small trading post and rest area off of US Highway 160 (referred to in the book by its former name, Navajo...

As their name suggests, red-winged blackbirds are small birds with mostly all black coloring except for a splash of red (and yellow) on the top of their wings. These...

An old slang term that refers, usually in a disparaging way, to a Native American person. The term "Red Skins" originated in letters and reports of white European...

Mentioned in Tony Hillerman's 1970 Navajo detective novel THE BLESSING WAY in regards to a totem that can fend off ghost sickness, the Reed Clan, known as Lók’aa’ Dine...

In traditional Native American cultures, "religion" is an alien concept. Rather than religion, these traditional societies acknowledge, respect, and participate in what...

A relocation Indian, also known as an urban Indian, is a Native American whose family was encouraged to leave its reservation during the 1950s. Initally focusing on the...

A U.S.-based company that makes shotguns, rifles, handguns, and ammunition. The total company name is Remington Arms Company, LLC, and it is the oldest rifle-making...

A city located in the northwestern part of the state of Nevada, very near the border with California, just east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Reno was established as...

Approximately 56.2 million acres of land within the United States are designated as Native American reservations, areas of land set aside for the perpetual use of...

The colloquial name for wool hats that started showing up in Indian Country around the time of the Civil War. The hats, in different colors, were modified by U.S. Army...

Resin is a liquid hydrocarbon secreted by some plants as a form of protection. If the plant is damaged, resin seeps from the wound, hardening as it dries into a...

A firearm, usually a handgun, with the capacity to fire multiple times prior to reloading. A revolver has a revolving cylinder, usually with six chambers, each of...

A coarse or indecent statement made in an attempt to be humorously provocative.

A continuous elevation of land that extends in a line between higher mountain peaks. Sometimes ridges descend from a higher peak toward lower elevations, giving a...

A rifle is a firearm with an extended barrel that is generally raised up to the shoulder for firing. The interior surface of the long barrel is carved with spiral...

A shelf or set of hooks fitted to hang a rifle on. Rifle racks can be kept indoors or installed inside vehicles. In police or military vehicles, for example, they are...

The basic structural equipment used in oil, natural gas, or water well drilling operations. Rigs are massive scaffolds used in a variety of procedures that require...

In Latin, rigor means "stiffness" and mortis means "of death." The term refers to the hardening of muscles after death, which is caused by chemical changes that start...

The layer of rock that tops some geological uplifts. Often seen in the form of a wall or cliff, rimrock forms a cap and sometimes even an overhang over the softer rock...

A relatively old, major street in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The street runs east-west through Albuquerque's old farming neighborhoods of the South Valley. It starts in...

The Rio Grande is a large, meandering river that flows north to south from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado through the center of New...

The Rio Grande is the largest river flowing through the state of New Mexico, and the valley surrounding it has provided much-needed water and sustenance to the various...

A western tributary of the Rio Grande River that passes through the central part of the state of New Mexico. The Rio Puerco River originates in the Nacimiento Mountains...

A formal or prescribed set of observances that make up a regular practice, especially one carrying spiritual significance. A ritual can be performed alone or in small...

A species of sage, which is also known as Greaseleaf Salvia. It grows throughout the southwestern U.S. in rocky limestone hills. Rock sage can grow to a maximum height...

A rocket is an aircraft propelled by the release of gases produced via the process of combustion. Rockets take the basic form of a tube with an elongated nose. A...

One of the longest mountain ranges in North America, the Rocky Mountains are located in the western United States and span from northern Alberta and British Columbia in...

A roof hole is a hole in the roof of traditional pueblo structures. These holes allowed air and light to come into the dwelling and smoke to exit the dwelling, but...

Also known as roofing felt or tar paper, roofing paper is made of either heavy-duty paper or fiberglass mat that is soaked in tar or asphalt to produce a waterproof...

A small community on the Navajo reservation, located at the foot of the eastern slope of Black Mesa in Apache County in northeast Arizona. The Navajo name for the area...

Round Rock, also known as Tsé Nikani (Flat Plated Rocks) in the western part of the Navajo Reservation and Bis Dootl'izh Deez'ahi (Blue Pointed Mesa) in the eastern...

In Tony Hillerman's 1984 Navajo detective novel THE GHOSTWAY, Jim Chee travels from east to west along Route 504, "through Teec Nos Pos, Red Mesa, Mexican Water, and...

A ruff is a conspicuous ring of feathers or fur found around the neck of various animal species. A manmade ruff is used in the human world to adorn revered figures such...

In the Southwestern U.S., the primary setting for Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series, ruins typically refer to ancient Puebloan structures that are scattered...

Runoff occurs when water from snowmelt or rain runs along the surface of the earth without being absorbed into the soil. Over time, runoff contributes to erosion. In...

Current maps of Grants, New Mexico show no indication that such a road exists. It is possible that road names have changed since the time Hillerman wrote People of...

S

A large, bear-sized mammal that lived through the end of the Pleistocene epoch, meaning that it went extinct about ten thousand years ago. Although they resemble cats,...

A small city founded in 1693 and located in the state of Nuevo Leon, in northeastern Mexico, near the border between Mexico and Texas. The city was founded around a...

Sabito Wash is a 20-mile-long tributary of Leroux wash located within the Painted Desert in northeastern Arizona. This wash is on the northern boundary of Petrified...

In Navajo cosmology, there are four sacred mountains that bound the Navajo homeland, each being associated with a specific color and deity. Blue Flint Woman is one of...

A seat made of leather that is placed on the backs of horses, ponies, camels, and other four-legged creatures ridden by humans. Although it is possible to ride most of...

A geographic term that refers to the outline of a mountain in which a gentle concave depression lies between two peaks. As the name suggests, the shape would then...

Sometimes referred to as the "safety button" or "catch," on a firearm the safety, when engaged, prevents the firearm from accidentally firing. In order to discharge a...

A leading U.S. supermarket chain with stores all over the U.S. as well as in a few countries abroad. The company started with a small grocery store in American Falls,...

Sagebrush, often shortened to "sage," is the name of a group of plants that are commonly referred to as sagebrushes or sageworts. These are plants in the genus...

Vietnam is a country located in Southeast Asia and is bordered by China, Laos, and Cambodia. From 1859-1954 the country was colonized by the French government, and...

A Catholic School founded by Franciscan missionaries in 1923, located on the Zuni Pueblo Reservation in New Mexico. Currently, the school serves only the Zuni community...

Ritual and spiritual warrior kachina figures who play an important role in the Zuni winter solstice ceremonial of Shalako. There is one Salamobia for each of the six...

A city in northeastern Massachusetts famous for its brutal and bloody witch trials in the 1692, where religious leaders of the town convicted 19 women of witchcraft and...

A group of anaerobic bacteria that is potentially pathogenic, or disease-causing, for humans and other warm-blooded animals. Certain types of Salmonella may develop in...

Salt brush, more commonly called saltbush, is most likely a reference to a common western plant also known as the four wing saltbush or chamiza. Although it is a native...

A Navajo clan mentioned in several of Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective novels, with land near the fictional No Agua Wash, which may be imagined to be somewhere in the...

The Navajo (Diné) tribe is comprised of more than forty family lineages--or clans--that claim common ancestry. According to traditional lore, the Áshįįhi, or Salt...

The Salt Water Clan, Tódík’ǫ́zhí in Navajo, is a Navajo clan mentioned in several of Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective novels, with land imagined to be somewhere...

The second largest city in California after Los Angeles, San Diego is located at the southernmost tip of the state, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and adjacent to...

The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range located in just North of Flagstaff, Arizona. This mountain range was once a cluster of volcanoes, and it has the...

San Francisco is the main commercial and cultural center of Northern California. The city was founded in 1776 by Spanish colonizers and grew fairly slowly until the...

The third largest city in California (after Los Angeles and San Diego), San Jose is located about 50 miles southeast of San Francisco. Its inland location and semi-arid...

A small village located in central New Mexico, just northeast of Grants, about 100 miles west of Albuquerque. Prior to becoming known as the "Uranium Capital of the...

An unprovoked attack on on peaceful southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians that occurred in 1864 as led by Col. Chivington who had gotten orders not to make peace with...

Also known as sandpaintings or dry paintings, sand paintings (or iikááh in Navajo) are created by a medicine man (or Hataałii in Navajo) for ceremonial purposes. Sand...

Sandia Crest is the highest peak in the Sandia Mountain Range with an elevation of 10,678 ft. The Sandia Mountains are located east of the city of Albuquerque, New...

This mountain range runs north to south and is located east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The highest peak, Sandia Crest, is 10,678 feet in elevation. The range may have...

Sedimentary rock consisting of sand or quartz grains consolidated and compacted together, typically reddish in color, although yellow and brown versions are also common...

One of the longest mountain ranges in the world. The range begins at Poncha Pass in Colorado and extends 204 miles south to Glorieta Pass near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The...

A small airport in Santa Fe that offers commercial flights. Most visitors to New Mexico prefer the Albuquerque International Sunport, which flies to many more locations...

The state capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe (meaning “holy Faith” in Spanish) is the oldest capital in the United States. At an elevation of over 7000 feet, it is also...

sap

The watery fluid that is transported through a plant’s structure through vascular tissue. This fluid can be a mixture of water, sugar, waste, food, salts, and other...

A young tree with a girth less than four inches in diameter at breast height (DBH).

A humorous tone that is skeptical, disdainful, or intentionally mocking.

A large country extending across the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East. The vast land of Saudi Arabia is arid and thinly populated. Both Mecca and Medina, the two...

Saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) are small owls that are native to North America. They have small heart-shaped faces and cat-like eyes. This owl is found throughout...

A sheath or protective case that holds a weapon such as a gun, dagger, or sword.

The portion of epidermis, or skin, that covers the dome of the human head, from the hairline above the brows back to the nape of the neck. In many cultures,...

The person chosen during the Enemyway ceremonial to collect and carry a symbolic enemy scalp to the place where it will be shot and ritually defeated. The object...

A ceremonial participant in the Enemyway whose job is to shoot the ritual “scalp” of the enemy that is causing illness in a patient. The Enemyway is a Navajo ceremony...

A ceremonial stick used in the Navajo Enemyway ceremonial. On the first day of the Enemyway, the scalp stick is created at the patient’s home and at sunset of the stick...

A scapegoat is a person on whom blame is wrongly placed with the intention of misdirecting accountability and willfully causing harm.

Animals or insects whose food source is exclusively or partially the carcasses of dead animals, garbage, or other food sources that have been overlooked by, or are...

An informal reference to persons who habitually ignore or violate the law, especially in regard to paying fines or debts.

A type of whiskey usually made in Scotland. Scotch whiskys (which are spelled without the "e") have a distinctive smokey flavor, a result of the distilling process,...

A colloquial reference to the juniper component of pinyon-juniper woodlands, which range from New Mexico, across the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin, and into the...

In 1952 the Navajo Tribal Council officially adopted the Great Seal of the Navajo Tribe, which was designed by John Claw Jr., an Arizona Navajo artist. The fifty...

In traditional Navajo stories about Grandmother Spider, the figure who taught weaving to First Woman, the Season when the Thunder Sleeps refers to Winter and Spring...

The largest city in the U.S. state of Washington and in the greater region of the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle area was inhabited by Native peoples for thousands of...

Also known as Mishongnovi, this Hopi village shares a name with the mesa it is located on. Second Mesa is the middle of the three peninsular mesas located on the Hopi...

Every Southwestern Pueblo society has slightly different ceremonial practices, yet each Pueblo maintains a variety of priesthoods that perform ceremonies in kivas and...

At the uranium mine in Church Rock, NM, Section 17 was a site where large reserves of uranium deposits were discovered in the late 1950s. The area was mined heavily in...

A four-door car design with three separate interior compartments: one for the engine, one for the passengers, and one for the cargo. The origin of the term is not...

A seep, also known as a gravity spring, is an area where water slowly oozes from the ground and collects. A seep is created when the water table intersects with a...

Seismograph is an older term for what today is referred to as a seismometer. Seismometers are instruments used to measure waves and movement within the earth’s surface...

A seizure occurs when there is a sudden overabundance or absence of signaling to the brain. The outward signs of seizures are erratic behavior, convulsions, vomiting,...

Also known as Seklagidsa or Tselagideza Canyon, located in the western slopes of the Carrizo Mountains in Apache County, Arizona. There is also a canyon by the same...

A pistol that uses the force of the recoil to reload and re-position the hammer gun after each shot. Only one bullet is released per shot, meaning that the trigger...

The term describes a built structure that, rather than standing alone, is attached to another building. In residential homes, for example, a semi-detached garage is...

A large transport truck that consists of a tractor unit in the front onto which one or more wheeled freight trailers can be hitched. These trucks are called semi-...

The capital city of South Korea located along the Han River in the north of the country near the North Korean border. During the Korean War, the city was controlled at...

In the United States police force, the term refers to a police officer ranking below captain or lieutenant.

After World War Two, the seventh grade was the first of two grades in what for many public school students in the United States was known as "junior high." Later, as...

William Shakespeare was an English playwright, actor, and poet who is the author of some of the world’s most famous plays. He was born in 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon in...

In the tradition of the Zuni people of the American Southwest, Shalako refers both an annual winter solstice ceremony, as well as to spirit deities perceived as giant,...

In Tony Hillerman's 1972 retelling of the Zuni myth THE BOY WHO MADE DRAGONFLY, he makes reference to the Shalako Messenger Birds. In the tradition of the Zuni people...

A fine-grained sedimentary rock formed out of mud, clay, silt, and other small minerals. In large quantities, for example on a mountain side, shale has the appearance...

A term used as a general reference to an indigenous community's spiritual leader or traditional healer. Such a person has the skills and knowledge to perform rituals,...

Sheep are hoofed mammals, classified as ovis aries. They are usually domesticated and kept as livestock by various cultures throughout the world. Sheep are raised for...

A seasonal camp, often located in the mountains, where sheep can graze. These camps can be occupied either during summer or year round.

A sheepherder protects and manages a group of sheep, especially during open grazing. In the 1500s, sheep were first brought by the Spanish to what later became known...

Also called shearling, a sheep's cured hide with the wool still attached.

An elected police official who is in charge of enforcing the law in a county or town of the U.S.

Sherlock is a literary character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1880’s. He is a fictional consulting detective for Scotland Yard and is based in London,...

A small town in north-central Texas that was founded in 1846. The town is named after General Sidney Sherman, a leader of the Texas Revolution of 1835, during which...

Also spelled Sipaulovi, Shipaulovi is one of three villages located on Second Mesa within the larger network and community of the Hopi people who are spread out across...

A volcanic rock formation located in San Juan County, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation Reservation. The actual rock is approximately 10 miles southwest of the town that...

The Navajo nation is split into seven districts, each with a field station. These stations include Window Rock, Arizona (1); Shiprock, New Mexico (2); Crownpoint, New...

Shiprock is named after the nearby volcanic rock formation known in Navajo as Tse Bit'a'I, or "winged rock." It lies at the junction of U.S. Highways 64 and 491 and is...

One of three Hopi villages on the Second Mesa, located on the southwestern side of the mesa. There are at least 57 known spellings for the name of this village, but the...

Also spelled "Shootingway," the Shooting Way is a curing ceremonial complex from the Holyway classification that is performed to heal the patient’s sickness and restore...

Short Mountain is a fictional area that Tony Hillerman describes as extremely empty and barren. It is located east of Tuba City near Black Mesa, Arizona.

...

The Short Mountain Trading Post is a fictional landmark landmark located in the extremely barren area of Short Mountain Territory, also fictional, east of Tuba City...

A type of rifle that is less than 26 inches in overall length, or that has a barrel shorter than 16 inches. This weapon is fired from the shoulder. A short-barreled...

Generally made of leather or canvas, a shoulder holster is sling for a firearm that is worn around the shoulder, with the gun resting just under the armpit area. If...

Also known as the Little Fire God, Shulawitsi is an important spiritual figure in the Zuni pueblo tradition. Personated by a young boy of the Badger Clan, this figure’s...

One of the three Hopi villages on First Mesa, which is part of the Hopi Indian Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The village was established in 1750 by members of...

A site of ancient Hopi village ruins, located in the southern portion of First Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Northern Arizona. The site is probably more well-known...

A cylindrical device that attaches to the end of a barrel of a gun and muffles the loud noise of a fired shot. A silencer works by adding volume to the short, narrow...

A chemical compound also known as silicon dioxide (SiO2). Silica is the most common element in the earth’s crust and can be a main component of many rock types, such as...

Fine sand or soil that is deposited as sediment after being carried by water, for example a river or a creek.

Although many indigenous groups in the U.S. Southwest are considered master jewelry makers and silversmiths, with unique designs and methods to their credit,...

A dollar coin that was originally made of silver in Europe, and was first issued by the royalty of England and Scotland in the 16th century. The United States of...

A set of serving and dining dishes made of silver, usually containing a large urn or bowl, goblets, plates, and often utensils as well. Silver dishes are uses for...

Sinew is the strong, stringy tissue in the body that connects muscles and bones, and sinewy is an adjective describing a tough, organic, stringy object. When describing...

A sing is another way of referring to something as formal as a Navajo healing ceremony, as well as something as intimate as an individual prayer, because the use of...

Also known as hatałii in Navajo, singers, like medicine men, perform traditional ceremonial healing cures targeted at body, mind, and spirit, and call on the patient,...

Sinkholes, also known as cenotes in Spanish, occur naturally when water slowly dissolves bedrock (usually limestone or gypsum, which erode easily) until the ground...

Sky

According to what is known of Navajo mythology, Father Sky and Mother Earth are considered to be the parents of everything. Father Sky is sacred, as are his...

Along with the word "trousers," slacks is a somewhat old-fashioned synonym for the word pants, which is commonly used in the U.S. (but not in Britain) to refer to a two...

Slate occurs when tectonic plates collide, creating heat and pressure that metamorphize the elements of which the plates are composed. Slate is the metmorphic form of...

A mixture of rain and snow. The term also refers to small hailstones that occur when raindrops freeze in the air, as well as to the accumulation of clear ice on objects...

The Navajo (Diné) tribe is comprised of more than forty family lineages, or clans, that claim common ancestry. While various other clan names Hillerman mentions in his...

Slug is a vernacular expression often used to describe bullets. Slug is also a specific reference to a bullet without its cartridge. The cartridge of a piece of...

In the traditional construction of a hogan, the Diné dwelling house, a hole is cut in the roof in order to let smoke from the hearth fire below out of the room. The...

Snakes are limbless reptiles. Some snakes are venomous, meaning they are able to inject their prey with poison, while most snakes are not. Found on almost every...

A flowering shrub (Gutierrezia sarothrae) found in the western half of the United States, often growing in arid grasslands or on mountain sides. This flowing plant is...

A type of rock also known as steatite, which has a high content of talc and a texture that is relatively soft and therefore conducive to stone carving. With prolonged...

Educational curricula at the elementary and sometimes high school levels in the United States that seek to promote civic competence by integrating the social sciences...

A professional with an advanced degree in social work who is assigned, usually by a government or medical agency, to help people and families who struggle with...

A sorcerer, or sorceress, is a person who practices magic or witchcraft by connecting with spirits, ancestors, and the supernatural world. The term is usually used with...

Another word for the practice of witchcraft, magic, or the manipulation of supernatural powers, especially with the intent of influencing the behavior of others....

The essential but non-physical aspect of a living being, that which leaves the body after death. Depending on the context, "soul" can refer to the spirit, personality...

A region defined in different ways by different sources. Narrowly defined, the core Southwest is centered on the states comprising the Four Corners (Utah, Colorado, New...

Spanish priests, a colloquial reference to the presence of the Catholic church in the Americas during their colonization by Spain, were responsible for the conversion...

In an internal combustion engine, the spark plug is a small device that produces electric sparks when the ignition key is turned. The electric sparks ignite the air/...

Built on the banks of the Eurotas River, Sparta was an ancient city-state run by a stalwart military oligarchy that rose to dominance in 650 BCE. In order to develop...

The entertainment and recreational branch of the U.S. military. The unit was created in 1940 by the War Department with the purpose of enhancing morale, specifically of...

Also known as Grandmother Spider, Spider Woman is a powerful figure in various Native American mythologies. In many creation and migration stories she appears as a...

Springs are areas on the landscape where groundwater is pushed by gravity or pressure to the surface through unconsolidated sediment or fractures in the bedrock....

A large evergreen tree, native to New Mexico and other mountainous areas of the Southwest, common at elevations between 7,000-12,000 feet. Spruce tends to grow in dense...

A term used in music to describe abrupt sounds that are set apart as opposed to smoothly integrated or sustained sounds, thereby creating a style of singing or playing...

A steel alloy containing between 10-30 percent chromium, which has unusual heat and corrosion resistance qualities. Nickel, titanium, copper, or other elements may be...

A rock formation commonly found suspended from the ceilings of caves. The mixture of water and calcium carbonate (found in limestone) forms stalactites, which when they...

A rock formation that commonly ascends from cave floors. Stalagmites form when sandstone has been stripped away, exposing limestone. The mixture of water and calcium...

Stanley (Stan) Newman was a professor of Linguistic Anthropology at the University of New Mexico from 1949 until 1971. In 1960 he became a co-editor of the Southwestern...

The Navajo (Diné) tribe is comprised of more than forty family lineages--or clans--that claim common ancestry. There is no indication that there is an actual Navajo...

A small community located in northwestern New Mexico, on the eastern side of the Navajo Reservation. Standing Rock is one of the many chapters of the Navajo Nation,...

In some versions of Navajo healing traditions, a star gazer completes a ceremony to diagnose the type of illness a patient has. The star gazer first creates a...

A police force maintained by a U.S. state and responsible for the territoriality of that particular state. The state police force has a higher jurisdiction than the...

Unlike the typical four-door sedan design, a station wagon has five doors, because it does not have a rear trunk that is separate from the passenger compartment....

A wide-brimmed and high-crowned hat generally made of felt that was originally made by John B. Stetson Company, founded in 1865. Known as “Boss of the Plains,” this hat...

According to some versions of Navajo traditional healing ceremonies, stick receivers are roles performed by a member of another clan during the Enemyway ceremonial. The...

An apparatus used to distill alcohol from a fermented grain-based mixture, often known as mash or wash. Folk traditions locate these devices in a variety of...

A long period during which stones were utilized as the primary tool, making stone the definitive maker and marker of the era. Although humans were not the only beings...

A layer of the earth’s atmosphere above the troposphere and just below the mesosphere. This layer is stratified, with the upper layers being much warmer than the lower...

A mortuary is a funeral service agency that specializes in planning memorial services, cremation options, and burial services. This includes preparing the body of the...

A mixture of lime or gypsum, sand, and water that is applied to the walls of structures as a sealant. In the Southwest, many pueblos are made of adobe, which comes from...

There is a long standing tradition of sheep and cattle herding among the Navajo and Hopi, as well as other Native peoples in the New Mexico and Arizona area. In warm...

Also known as a brush hogan, a summer hogan is a temporary shelter typically made of three forked poles and covered with the boughs of cedar or piñon pine. These...

The sun retains a significant position in most cosmologies, often taking on anthropomorphic features. From Ra, Apollo, Buddha, and the Christ figure, to indigenous...

A daily phenomenon that has special resonance in the Four Corners area of Southwestern U.S.. Although sunsets, occurring as they do all over the world every evening,...

A world famous street that stretches from west Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Palisades. This boulevard began as a road that connected Los Angeles with...

The music played during the Girls Dance of the Enemyway ceremonial is known as “Sway Music.” These are complex songs with minimal, repeated vocalizations. While this...

A form of cleansing one’s body using heat to encourage perspiration while in a structure with little to no ventilation. In the Navajo tradition, sweat baths are...

Also known as a sweat lodge, a sweat house is a small structure used for ceremonial rituals that involve sweating as a way of purifying the self and connecting with the...