The Dark Wind (1982)

The Dark Wind (1982)


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.

Coyote Canyon, New Mexico

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 is based on a story of the spiritual being Coyote falling into a river after taking a drink of water. Coyote Canyon is one of the many chapters of the Navajo Nation, whose government system consists of five agencies (Chinle, Crownpoint, Fort Defiance, Shiprock, and Tuba City), with several local chapters within each agency. Each chapter has an administrative meeting place known as the chapter house, where the community gathers to discuss a variety of issues concerning life on the reservation.

Heart Butte, New Mexico

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 approximately 15 years during the 1940s and 1950s, there was also a trading post near this formation, which was called the Heart Rock Trading Post.

Ute people and culture

The Ute are a Native American group living in southern Colorado, northern New Mexico, and eastern Utah, a state which is named after them. The name Ute means "land of the sun." They speak the Ute language, which belongs to the Numic branch of Uto-Aztecan language family, suggesting a connection between the Ute tribes and other indigenous groups found throughout what is now northern and central Mexico. The Ute were known to be expert horsemen and hunters; however, prior to European, specifically Spanish, contact, they primarily lived by collecting plants and other wild foods. The Ute have been considered traditional enemies of the Navajo, as well as other tribes in the U.S. Southwest, because of their practice of capturing women and children and then selling them to European settlers and other indigenous groups as slaves. Today, the Ute are found in three distinct groups on three separate reservations: the Uintah-Ouray Ute in Utah, the Ute Mountain Ute along the Colorado-New Mexico border, and the Southern Ute.


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 each of the four cardinal directions. Before leaving to plant, a husband and his water container will be sprinkled with meal to symbolize the blessings of rain.

Oxford, England: Isis Audio Books, 1993.


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.

curing ceremonial

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, rather than the systematic ceremonial approach employed by their neighbors, the Pueblos. Navajos can either request a singer (hataałii) to perform a certain ceremonial to cure an ailment, or they can go to a hand-trembler (ndilniihii), star gazer, or listener to diagnose the source of the ailment. Once the source of the ailment is known, the healer can then recommend a proper ceremony for the cure. These ceremonials can include singing, prayers, sand painting, sweats, and emetics among other elements.

Prince Frederick, Maryland: Recorded Books, 1991.


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