The Ghostway (1984)

The Ghostway (1984)

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.


An intrusive igneous rock that forms when magma slowly crystalizes beneath the earth’s surface instead of erupting through the earth's surface as a dynamic expression of volcanic activity. When magma cools underground, it forms large crystals, giving granite its speckled appearance. Granite is commonly found throughout the U.S. Southwest since there are many volcanic mountain ranges in this region.

Two Gray Hills Boarding School, New Mexico

Two Gray Hills is the fictitious Indian boarding school that Jim Chee attends. It is located near the Two Gray Hills trading post in the northwest corner of New Mexico on the Navajo Nation Reservation. Indian boarding schools often operated as missions; their main goal was to assimilate Native American children into what was understood as the dominant U.S. culture via conversion to Christianity, loss of indigenous language and lifeways, and training in service work. Physical, sexual, and psychological abuse were common at boarding schools.

winter hogan

It is not uncommon for the Navajo to have a summer and winter dwelling. A hogan is a traditional Navajo home. Hogans are generally round (female) or, less commonly, cone shaped (male), with the door facing east. The earliest hogans were called forked-stick hogans and were made from wooden poles forked together at the top to form a conical structure that was then covered with mud; the construction is very specific and the directions for building a hogan have been passed down for generations, originating with the Holy People.

A winter hogan is generally located at lower elevation pasture land. This structure is made of wooden planks and can be covered in earth for better insulation. However, winter hogans can also be used during summertime.


A seat made of leather that is placed on the backs of horses, ponies, camels, and other four-legged creatures ridden by humans. Although it is possible to ride most of the animals mentioned without a saddle, saddles can be more comfortable than riding bareback. In addition, saddles are pieces of technical equipment that enable riders to stick their mounts while under extreme conditions, such as when an animal is galloping over uneven terrain, when roping an escaping varmint, when jumping, or when covering extremely long distances.

There are two kinds of saddles: the English saddle and the Western saddle that has a pommel.


An enclosed area generally made of wooden planks that prevent stock animals, such as sheep, goats, and cows from escaping. Corrals are generally associated with pastoralism and ranching.


Springs are areas on the landscape where groundwater is pushed by gravity or pressure to the surface through unconsolidated sediment or fractures in the bedrock. Springs often manifest as ponds or seeps of water on the surface.

Newport Beach: Books On Tape, 1994.

Oxford, England: Isis Audio Books, 1993.


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