The Dark Wind (1982)

The Dark Wind (1982)

Colorado Plateau, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah

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 include: high mountain ranges, deep canyons, river valleys, high plateaus, mesas, deserts, basins, and buttes. The highest elevation in the Colorado Plateau is the La Sal Mountains in Utah at 12,700 feet, and the lowest elevation is the Grand Canyon in Arizona at 2,000 feet. This vast difference in elevation means that the ecology of this landform is varied based on altitude and precipitation, from the alpine tundra of the higher elevations to the riparian areas along the Colorado River. This also means that there is variation in the animal communities based on changes in elevation and vegetation.

This landscape encompasses portions of two prehistoric cultural areas: the Great Basin and the American Southwest. This area has been continuously occupied since Paleoindian times, with the Clovis culture hunting game as far back as 10,000 B.C. Some of the most well-known structures of the Colorado Plateau are the cliff dwellings found in Mesa Verde, in southwestern Colorado. Around 1150 to 1200 B.C. Ancestral Puebloans began occupying these large alcoves, building stunning dwellings with hundreds of rooms. Around late A.D. 1200 through A.D. 1300 there was a massive migration from the Colorado Plateau south towards the Hopi, Zuni, and the Rio Grande Valleys. It is generally believed that an environmental catastrophe and subsequent collapse of societal organization caused this huge migration. Today, about one third of the Colorado Plateau is Native American reservation land designated to 31 tribes. The tribes that currently occupy the plateau include: Ute Mountain Ute, Southern Ute, various Pueblo groups, Yavapai, Paiute, Apache, Havasupai, and others.

Union Mall, University of New Mexico

The Union Mall is a paved, pedestrian strip that leads from the main entrance of University of New Mexico in Albuquerque into the campus's grounds and main buildings. The mall runs along the Student Union Building and is a central location on campus where student organizations often set up information booths and where outdoor events and performances take place.

Hopi Motel, Arizona

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 cultural center also includes a restaurant, a visitor center, and a trading post for Hopi arts and crafts. It provides information about Hopi culture and about visits to the Hopi mesas, especially the well-known, ancient village of Walpi.

Highway 58, Arizona

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 road does not appear on any maps, and there is no indication that it ever did. It is possible that Hillerman got the road numbers mixed up and was in fact referring to either Highway 87 or Road 99, as those are the main routes traveling north from the Winslow area to the Navajo Reservation.

Winslow, Arizona

A small town located just off of Highway 40 in eastern Arizona, about 58 miles east of Flagstaff. The settlement was established in 1880 around a railroad terminal. Its location on the historic Route 66 made it a convenient stop for tourists in the first part of the 20th century, and the La Posada Hotel, which was designed by the famous architect Mary Colter, became a major point of attraction in the area. When railroad travel stopped in the late 1950s, and after Interstate 40 replaced the old Route 66 in the 1970s, the town suffered a devastating economic decline. Today, ongoing preservation efforts make Winslow a destination for nostalgic tourism, which has grown in recent years.

Winslow was made famous in the 1970s when it was mentioned in the hit song "Takin' it Easy" by the American band The Eagles. A statue and mural commemorating the song serve as unique roadside attractions for modern-day travelers visiting Winslow.

Cameron, Arizona

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 River in 1911. A trading post followed in 1916, which offered a meeting place for Navajo and Hopi residents from the surrounding area to engage in the exchange of their wool, crafts, or livestock for dry goods supplied by the trading post's owners. Today, the town has a few stores and restaurants and is a service stop for both locals and tourists traveling to and from the Grand Canyon.

cliff dwelling

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 overhangs and large caves as the base for their structures. Many standing ruins of cliff dwellings that were built in the period around 1150-1300 CE can be found in the Four Corners area in present day Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. The early, nomadic Puebloan peoples started building these structures by enclosing existing cliff caves with stone building blocks and adobe mortar to create storage bins for gathered and hunted foods. Later on, a similar technique was used to build larger rooms that were used as living structures. The settlements were often built on high canyon walls as a way to protect the community from predators and hostile neighboring tribes. Steps were carved into rocks, and wooden ladders were used to climb up and down the canyon walls. Some of the most impressive cliff dwelling ruins are located in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, the Gila National Monument in New Mexico, and Walnut Canyon in Arizona.


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 evokes an enclosed space of sacred potential. The kiva is a round room that is dug underground with a domed roof that protrudes above ground. The structure's opening is a round hole in the rooftop, from which the kiva's dancers and medicine men emerge during public ceremonies, using a long wooden ladder. The ladder is an essential, functional part of the structure and also has a symbolic function as the line that connects the underground chamber with the outside world.

Sichomovi, Arizona

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 various Hopi clans from the neighboring settlement of Walpi, and has been occupied continuously since then.

Awatovi, Arizona

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 in northeastern Arizona. The village was a small settlement that was occupied by several Pueblo groups since the 14th century, and was one of the first Hopi villages to be conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century. In 1629, a Catholic mission was built in the village. Despite coerced conversion efforts, the Hopi secretly maintained and practiced their traditional beliefs, language, and rituals. While a small part of the Hopi population accepted Christianity and adapted to European conquest the majority adamantly resisted, holding on to the traditional indigenous lifestyle and belief system. The split led to increasing tensions and violence erupted in 1700 when the traditionalists attacked the mission and the village of Awatovi destroying its buildings, killing many of its residents, and dispersing the survivors among neighboring villages. The site has remained uninhabited ever since.


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