The Dark Wind (1982)

The Dark Wind (1982)

Gallup, New Mexico

Gallup is the most populous city along I-40 between Flagstaff, AZ and Albuquerque, NM , which is the interstate overlay of "the mother road," Route 66. The city was founded in 1881 and named for David Gallup, an employee of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Gallup is also located just to the southeast of the Navajo Nation and has become known for its Native population, "trading post" pawn shops, and its high rate of alcoholism, among other things. As one of the U.S.'s last remaining frontier outposts, intercultural exchanges seem intensified in this border railroad town, as it's the last stop before entering reservation country. In many senses, Gallup maintains a thriving intercultural population, despite the poverty, and the violences associated with poverty, that afflict a great portion of the city's population. Often referred to as the capital of Indian Country, Gallup has also been, and remains, an ideal location for creating cinematic representations of an iconic Southwest, because of its natural scenery as well as the rich Native American cultural traditions that have coalesced in the city.


In the Southwestern U.S., the primary setting for Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series, ruins typically refer to ancient Puebloan structures that are scattered across the landscape, from cliff dwellings in high canyon alcoves to complex urban and road structures such as those found in Chaco Canyon. The relative remoteness and ruggedness of the Southwest also took its toll on European settlers, and remnants of Spanish rancheros, Hispanic villages, and Anglo-American ghost towns are found along networks of two-track dirt roads, ephemeral waterways, and defunct railroad spur lines.

At the turn-of-the-century in the Southwest, Puebloan ruins "discovered" by photographers, artists, and commercial entrepreneurs provided the perfect backdrop for marketing the Southwest as a land of ancient cultures with haunting echoes of lost civilizations. Since the Renaissance, European cultures tend to revisit their ruins, as ruins were thought to symbolize innate beauty and timeless value. Especially during the Romantic period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, ruins were artificially and artfully juxtaposed into manipulated landscapes to emphasize the picturesque "wilderness" of the landscape.

In comparison, Native American cultures in the Southwest tend to maintain a tradition of staying away from these abandoned sites, associating them ancestor spirits. This intentional distancing is a sign of respect for the ancestors, who are believed to remain tied to these places.


Among the Native Pueblo peoples of the American Southwest, the term kachina (often also spelled "katsina”) generally refers to protective deities; either ancestors or guardian spirits. Yet the term can also be applied to masked dancers who personify and become gods or spirits, as well as to the dolls created in the likeness of these dancers and/or the actual gods and spirits. The dolls are traditionally used to teach children to recognize the characteristics and attributes of a Pueblo's spiritual belief system. The pantheon of kachinas is different for each Pueblo, although kachinas are generally understood as supernatural manifestations of elements occurring in the natural world, such as weather phenomena, plants, and animals. In essence, kachinas are perceived as reminders of the animating presence that invests all things in the universe with life, vitality, and purpose.

In the Hopi and Zuni tradition, kachinas are tied to the various clans that make up the tribe, and kachina societies are formed accordingly, each with their own origin stories, and with a variety of ceremonies and traditional spiritual practices.

Black Mesa, Arizona

Black Mesa is an elevated, bowl-shaped region (approximately 4,000 square miles) located in northern Arizona. It is part of the Navajo Reservation; a portion of the Hopi Reservation; and some of the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area, which is claimed by both the Navajo and Hopi. The region of Black Mesa includes a mesa itself as well as the surrounding sloping hills, canyons, valleys, and four drainages that are tributaries of the Little Colorado River.

This area has been inhabited by Native peoples for over 7,000 years. It is significant to both the Hopi and the Navajo peoples, there are approximately 16,000 Navajo and 8,000 Hopis on Black Mesa. The Hopi reservation consists of twelve villages located on three mesas: First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa, all of which are located upon the larger Black Mesa. The Hopi consider this land sacred and part of their tribal history and origin. For the Navajo peoples, Black Mesa is the sacred female mountain, also known as the Female Pollen Range, and is important to the frequently performed Blessingway ceremony. The Blessingway (Hózhójí) is used to bless the "one sung over," to ensure good luck, good health, and blessings for everything that pertains to them.

Black Mesa is a contested area among Anglo settlers and industrialists, the Hopi, and the Navajo peoples. Despite strong opposition from within and outside their communities, in 1966 the Navajo and Hopi tribal councils sold the mineral and aquifer rights on Black Mesa to the Peabody Coal Company for two million dollars a year. Peabody Coal has been accused of depleting the region’s aquifer; destroying sacred sites; strip-mining; and polluting the area, the Navajo called their actions the “rape of Earth Mother.” Under federal law PL 93-531, at least 12,000 to approximately 16,000 Navajos were forcefully relocated from Black Mesa, in the largest Indigenous relocation in the United States since the Trail of Tears. The Black Mesa mine was closed in 2005; however, in 2008 Peabody Coal received a permit to open again but were denied by administrative law judge in 2010 for not satisfying the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).


A book published annually by a school within which are images of students arranged by class or grade. Also included are images of instructors and staff, as well as images of special events, clubs and their members, academic competitions, dances, alumni visits, and other noteworthy occurrences. In many cases, the school yearbook is put together by a group of student volunteers, mentored or sponsored by a faculty member, making the yearbook a portrayal of student life by and for students.

Painted Desert, Arizona

This region, known as "Halchíítah" or "Among the Red Areas" in Navajo, is a vast expanse of badlands and desert landscape in Arizona. The exposed colorful layers of sandstone, clay, and volcanic remains give the desert its name. Much of the Painted Desert is protected, because it lays within the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area. Vast expanses of this desert also still remain within the Navajo Nation reservation.


War is significant in Hillerman's lexicon, as it is often an expression, if not the cause, of imbalance and physical and psychological illness. However, when it is used literally, war is the state of aggression between two or more groups that often ends with violent attacks against each other.


There are approximately 6,000 species of lizard, a diverse group of reptiles which are classified as part of the subgroup "lacertilia," distinguishing them as relatives to snakes. Reptiles are cold-blooded, carnivorous animals who generally lay eggs and shed their skins in a process called molting. Lizards have very strong eyesight, and many of them can shed and regenerate their tails as a defense mechanism against predators. In addition, many lizards prey on insects and arthropods, making them useful allies in pest control.

The Southwestern Center for Herpetological Research has identified 169 species within the U.S. Southwest alone, six of which have been introduced, meaning that these six species are considered non-native, or invasive, to the region.

Second Mesa, Arizona

Also known as Mishongnovi, this Hopi village shares a name with the mesa it is located on. Second Mesa is the middle of the three peninsular mesas located on the Hopi reservation, projecting like fingers from the southern part of Black Mesa. Approximately 20 miles long and 2 to 10 miles wide, it also contains the villages Shongopovi and Shipolovi.


One of three Hopi villages on the Second Mesa, located on the southwestern side of the mesa. There are at least 57 known spellings for the name of this village, but the Hopi call it Shung-o-hu Pa Ovi ("Place by the spring where the Tall Reed Grow"). The Shongopovi village is often considered the most traditional or conservative of all the Hopi villages. The ruins of Old Shongopovi can be found on the hills below the current dwelling place and are considered the oldest Hopi settlement.


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