Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)

Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)


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, and California. The pinyon pine is a relatively short tree that does not usually grow over 20-50 feet. It is characterized by its rounded form and branches that extend outward. The tree grows very slowly, reaching maturity around 100 years, and on average lives to be 350-450 years old. Pinyon pines produce edible pine nuts that have been a major food source for Native American peoples for centuries, and the tree's timber was used in early pueblo and cliff dwelling structures. The pinyon pine is known as the official state tree of New Mexico..

wagon track

A two-track path created by four-wheeled wagons drawn by draft animals such as oxen or horses. The wheels created two ruts, marking routes that other travelers could follow and that left traces over the landscape that could be read for centuries. Travelers in wagons would often follow routes already created by indigenous peoples, appropriating traditional travel ways that had been previously used for trade and pilgrimage.

Black Rock BIA Hospital, New Mexico

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 River, the side with the broken lava flow also known as malpais, or bad country, in Spanish. Today, the public health care center located in Black Rock is known as the Zuni Comperehensive Community Health Center, managed by federal Indian Healthcare Service under the auspices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA); there is also the Zuni Health Initiative nearby. Zuni Indian Hosptial is located just down the road in Zuni Pueblo proper.

Lukachukai Plateau, Arizona

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 surrounding landscape on one or more sides. The tops of plateaus are flat, meaning that it would be an ideal place to graze sheep.

Window Rock Navajo Police Department

Located in the southern portion of the Navajo Nation Reservation, Window Rock Police Department serves as the headquarters for the Department of Public Safety of the Navajo Nation. Window Rock is located in the Navajo Nation's District 1 and is commanded either by a Police Captain or Lieutenant, who ensures that the district is run properly, including criminal investigations, area patrol, and public services support. Additionally, in Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series, Window Rock is the station to which Joe Leaphorn is assigned.

Throughout Hillerman's novels, "Window Rock" is used metonymically to refer to the Navajo Nation Police headquarters.


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 balance, and walking in beauty. The opposite of hózhǫ́ is hóchxǫ́ǫ́, which refers to disorder and chaos in one’s life. In Hillerman's work, chaos and imbalance manifest as as physical or mental illness, infections of the body and soul contracted from contact with mainstream U.S. culture.


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 are various types of homicides and not all homicides are illegal. Murder in the first degree is the wrongful murder of another person with both intent and premeditation to kill established as motives prior to the act. Second degree murder is considered a “crime of passion,” meaning that there is no premeditation but there is intent to kill. Manslaughter is the killing of another person but is not considered murder because neither premeditation nor intent are present, although the desire to do bodily harm to another person was part of the motive prior to the act. Involuntary manslaughter, in which neither premeditation, desire to kill, nor commit bodily harm are present. A common example of involuntary manslaughter is a traffic accident cause by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. There are also legal homicides, which includes killing a person for self-defence or the self-defense of another human being.


Also known as an arroyo seco, gulch, or gully, a wash is a dry stream or river bed that does not hold water most of the time, but that is subject to seasonal flooding. Washes vary greatly in depth, width and length, and can be found all over the world in semiarid and desert areas. They are common throughout New Mexico and Southwestern parts of the U.S., where prolonged droughts keep them dry and heavy rains make them prone to flash flooding.


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 certain dark connotations to indicate the use of magic not for healing purposes but for harmful ones. Unlike in the Navajo tradition, in which the term witchcraft is generally used in a positive way to refer to healing, blessing, and ensuring harmony, in some Pueblo traditions such as Zuni, Hopi, or Laguna, the word sorcery indicates the manipulation of supernatural powers with a negative intent. In addition, while Navajos inherit the supernatural and healing arts from elders or are chosen to learn them based on unique talents, in Pueblo culture one can independently choose to become a sorcerer and voluntarily learn and practice witchcraft, usually in secret.


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 small tools.


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