The Dark Wind (1982)

The Dark Wind (1982)


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, are a common occurrence, because of the Southwest region's general latitude (roughly between 25 and 40 degrees North) and generally clear atmospheric conditions, skywatching, especially sunsets, is a regional practice. Deep purple to black silhouettes of striking cactus and geologic formations contrast with the ephemeral and splendid bursts of rich roses, oranges, and cerruleans that sweep and deepen from the western horizon to the observer's vantage point.


A tracker is an individual who is skilled in following prints and traces left on the ground by animals or a humans. In many Native American and other indigenous cultures, tracking is learned by hunters, gatherers, or warriors starting at a very early age. Trackers learn to identify animal paw and hoof prints, scat, fur, and feathers, as well as traces of movement on the path. Similarly, they may also be skilled in reading human traces such as footprints, tracks left by tools or vehicles, and signs of stopping, turning, and shifting weight. In Hillerman's novels, Jim Chee, a Navajo policeman, appears to possess exceptional tracking expertise that enables him to interpret clues left at crime scenes, follow suspects, and solve mysteries.

Native American trackers have been recruited by European settlers in the Americas since first contact. More recently, they have been employed by military and law enforcement agencies in operations that require their unique skills.


Traces or evidence of movement left in the outdoors, typically on the ground, whether by animal, human, or machine. In the context of Hillerman's novels, a track can refer to temporary marks and clues, as well as to an existing path that runs through the natural environment. Such a path can be a narrow one that is used by animals, especially herds of deer, sheep, or cattle, or it can be a wider, unpaved road that has formed as a result of vehicles passing through the same route over the course of many years. In the rural parts of the U.S. Southwestern regions, such country tracks are fairly common.

Track can also mean to look for or follow the physical evidence of an occurrence, whether the movement of an animal or the clues left behind as a result of criminal activity.


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," there can also be an inference to organized crime and gangsterism.


A person or persons who have knowledge of, or see, a crime being committed. If identified, they can be compelled to give a statement under oath in a court room or to provide a deposition. In trials where the life of a witness or a witness’s family could be jeopardized if the witness provides testimony, they can be placed in a special protective care before, during, and after the trial. This is known as the Witness Security Program, where, upon completion of testifying in court, the witness and their family have the option to be provided with new identities and relocated.

To witness something does not always entail observing criminal activity. To bear witness can also mean having experiential knowledge of something. One can witness an act of kindness, a natural phenomenon, an accident, or a miracle. Similar to the witnessing a criminal act, these other acts of witness often entail an associated testimonial, where the witness shares their observations as evidence or proof their experience.


A journey or trek, sometimes physical, sometimes metaphorical, and sometimes spiritual, with the purpose of fulfilling some sense of material, moral, or belief-based importance. Pilgrimages are often long and arduous, often requiring commitment and sacrifice. Nonetheless, pilgrimages have varies in notoriety and popularity, attaining popular entertainment, recreationg, and cult status. Pilgrimages have been, and continue to be, made to historic and religious sites for centuries and by people of all different beliefs.


In the early days of the telephone, calls had to be connected manually by inserting two phone plugs into specific ports, one from the caller and one for the called, in a panel called the switchboard. Switchboards were located in central locations, and a system of phone lines was managed by a switchboard operator.

Spanish priests

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 of indigenous peoples to Catholicism in the Americas. A two-pronged philosophy of "humanizing" drove the Church's conversion impetus. If the indigenous were actually human beings, then they could, and should, be saved from their barbarous heathenism via the gift of Catholicism. But Spanish priests were also a major force of the colonizing mission of the Spanish conquest of the New World, and many were susceptible to the desire for material gain that drove much of Spanish colonial efforts of the 16th and 17th centuries. In this sense, a secondary strain of de-humanization occurred, because if the native populations were not able to be saved, then they could be exploited as slave labor. As such, although Catholicism and other expressions of Christian faith have been incorporated into many American indigenous traditions, the history of the Spanish Catholicism in indigenous communities is a fraught one.

Soon after the first conquistadors arrived in the Americas in the late 15th century, Spanish missionaries and priests were sent to settle in the new colonies, establish missions, and spread the Catholic faith, both as a source of potential enlightenment as well as a source of social control. Many of the indigenous populations were quite resistant to the new religion and customs of the European colonists, and conversion was often done by force, through enslavement, dispossession, and, frequently, physical violence.


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 behavior and banishment from each world. Eventually, the Hopi emerged into the present world, but evil followed them here to the surface and still manifests today in the work of the powaqa.

A powaqa is a person who hopes to change the world around him in a negative way that only benefits himself, which is contrary to traditional Hopi beliefs that privilege the idea of community. Often, the benefit the powaqa seeks involves extending his own life and therefore disrupting the natural order. In many cases, the Hopi believe that selfish intentions and selfish behaviors of the powaqa lead to death and other negative consequence for those around the powaqa.


The English word "taboo" originates in the Tongan term tapu, or the Fijian tabu. The term was originally translated into English as "consecrated, inviolable, forbidden, unclean or cursed." A taboo is generally a vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too objectionable for ordinary individuals to undertake. Such prohibitions are agreed upon in a given society and often are understood as transgressions that are subject to punishment from the gods or other supernatural beings. Taboos are present in virtually all societies, and many are shared throughout the world, although the 19th-century psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud suggested that incest and patricide were the only two universal taboos. According to recent research, however, while similarities do exist, there is no such thing as a universal taboo, and each cultural group has its own set of rules pertaining to acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.


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