Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)

Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)


Another word for the practice of witchcraft, magic, or the manipulation of supernatural powers, especially with the intent of influencing the behavior of others. Sorcery tends to have a negative connotation when used in the context of Native American traditions, as does witchcraft, although neither is necessarily always associated with dark, hurtful, or negative work.

In Tony Hillerman's 1973 Navajo detective novel DANCE HALL OF THE DEAD, he references a Zuni "Sorcery Fraternity," but it seems that this may be an oblique reference to the Zuni Bow Chiefs, who don't really comprise a "fraternity," but who became responsible for policing the alleged use of sorcery after their war duties evaporated as a result of European settlement.

Rain God of the South

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 the south. The Council of the Gods is a group of spiritual figures, personified by carefully trained Zuni dancers during the Shalako winter ceremonies. The council’s figures wear large and colorful masks that can appear intimidating, but in fact are perceived as sacred spiritual guides and protectors. If the man personifying Hututu serves in tribal government, it is expected that he will refrain from all arguments, controversy and disputes.


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 elk or moose.

Badger Clan

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 are expressed uniquely in different indigenous groups, and each tribe is comprised of numerous various clans. Clan names often originate in the natural environment of the tribe’s homeland, and refer to place names, fauna and flora, or significant natural phenomena.

The Badger Clan is one of the clans that make up the Hopi system of kinship. The name is probably a reference to the mammal that is commonly found across Southwestern parts of the U.S. and is considered one of the revered hunting animals according to Hopi lore. A clan by the same name also exists in the Zuni Pueblo.


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. The Greek term “Catholic,” which originated in early Christianity, was first used in the 2nd century A.D. in reference to an orthodox view of the New Testament, one that advocated a literal approach to the scriptures. When the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as it official religion in the 4th century, The Roman Catholic Church developed a strict system of religious and political hierarchy headed by the Pope, who is considered the ultimate authority ruling over all the churches around the globe. Roman Catholicism was the unquestioned, prevailing faith across Europe throughout the middle Ages, and did not become a distinct entity until the rise of Protestantism in the 16th century. The split caused by the Protestant Reformation, which opposed and challenged the dogmatic rule of Catholicism, in effect created what is now perceived as two separate religions. With nearly 1.2 billion followers throughout the world, Catholicism is still the largest Christian denomination.

In general, a Catholic, or practitioner of the Roman Catholic faith, must subscribe to specific beliefs and adhere to the structural operations, rituals, and functions of the Church. Some of the core beliefs include the acceptance of Jesus Christ as a divine savior, the Church’s doctrine as the definitive truth as it was professed by Jesus in the 1st century, and transubstantiation—the belief that during the ritual of the Holy Sacrament the wine and bread consumed by the devotees actually become the blood and flesh of Jesus Christ. A severe observance to moral rules is also a central component of the religion. The confession of sins to an ordained priest is required as a regular practice, along with active worshiping by attending mass, reciting prayers, and promoting missionary initiatives.


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 beginning A’wonawilona exists in a world of nothingness and, by expansion of thought first creates mist and then transforms into the sun. As the mists form they gathered to become clouds and the resulting precipitation covered the emerging earth in water. It is from this water and flesh as the embodiment of the sun that A’wonawilona created the other deities, Father Sky and Mother Earth. It is Father Sky and Mother Earth that created human beings. Along with the divine pair Shiwani and Shiwonokia, these five deities have existed from the beginning of time.

Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico

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 high mesa top, and until a road was constructed in 1950’s from the valley floor to the top of the mesa, the only way to access the pueblo was by a steep foot path. The community of Acoma includes residential pueblo houses and ceremonial kivas. This pueblo is one of the oldest continually occupied settlements in North America.

Although the Pueblo culture is generally considered peaceful, Pueblo communities often found themselves the target of raids by their more mobile neighbors, including the Navajo, Apache, Comanche, and Ute. In addition, the Spanish first made contact with the pueblo around 1540, when Coronado was exploring the Southwest. However, it wasn’t until the second Spanish attempt to conquer this region in 1598 that tensions between Pueblo groups and the colonizers heightened. These tensions eventually led to a battle in the streets of Acoma against Vincente de Zaldivar, the nephew of the first governor of Nuevo Mexico, Don Juan de Onate. During the skirmish, Zaldivar fell to his death off the mesa. Three days later, Onateled a second attack and accomplished the massacre of between 800 to 1,000 Acoma. Onate then subjected the survivors to further penalties, including mutilation of males over the age of 25 and years of forced servitude for women and children. The historical trauma of this event is still very much alive today. In 1998, a group of Acoma cut off the heavy bronze foot of a statue dedicated to Onate in symbolic protest to the celebration of such atrocities.


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 their wool, which is used to weave textiles, and they are also kept on farms for their milk and meat.

Sheep are dearly cherished among the Navajo people of the American southwest. Sheep husbandry and herding has been an integral part of Navajo life for centuries, and according to Navajo belief, the reciprocal relationship between humans and their sheep symbolizes balance, unity, and living in harmony with the land. The Navajo-Churro sheep is of particular importance to the Navajo spiritually, agriculturally, and economically. The Churro’s wool is used to make intricately-designed blankets and rugs, and the sheep’s meet is a staple of the Navajo diet. This breed was on the brink of extinction after the American government conducted a livestock reduction as one of many colonization efforts to push the Navajo off their land and interrupt their way of life. The Navajo Sheep Project has since set out to breed and preserve the Navajo-Churro sheep so that man and animal can live in harmony once again.

Zuni Christian Reformed Mission. Zuni, New Mexico

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. The pre-kindergarten through 8th grade school has an annual enrollment of approximately 160 students.

The first Indian boarding school was opened in 1879 in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The main goals of boarding schools were to convert Native American children to Christianity and to “civilize” students to European-American culture by separating them from their families and community. Schools often enforced the wearing of uniforms, punished students if languages other than English were spoken, and even legally changed students’ names. The sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of Native children was common at Indian boarding schools.

Native American communities were reluctant to send their children to Indian boarding schools and the U.S. Army and even tribal police sometimes kidnapped children in order to meet enrollment. In 1900, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) changed some of their policies regarding separating families and many boarding schools became day schools. However, many of these schools continued to promote an educational philosophy that did not include the teaching of Native histories, cultures, or practices.


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 the animals mentioned without a saddle, saddles can be more comfortable than riding bareback. In addition, saddles are pieces of technical equipment that enable riders to stick their mounts while under extreme conditions, such as when an animal is galloping over uneven terrain, when roping an escaping varmint, when jumping, or when covering extremely long distances.

There are two kinds of saddles: the English saddle and the Western saddle that has a pommel.


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