Listening Woman (1978)

Listening Woman (1978)


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.


A descriptive word meaning difficult, burdensome, or psychologically challenging.

muzzle (animal)

The elongated nose/mouth bone structure of the face of an animal such as a dog or a deer. The same word is also used for the fastening device that may be placed around an animal's mouth to prevent it from biting or to restrict eating.


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.

airflow trailer

Likely a reference to an Airstream Trailer, a famous aluminum luxury vehicle produced by Airstream INC. from the 1930s to the present. Airstream was the brainchild of Wally Byam, who, in the 1920s, created a trailer in his backyard out of tent materials and a car chassis. This sparked massive interest from other holiday-goers, and Byam began to manufacture camping trailers for the mass use. The initial design included a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Airstream was one of the only trailer companies to survive both the Great Depression of the 1930’s and World War II. Today these iconic trailers are still widely used, to the point where there are groups that share their love for these trailers and call themselves Airstreamers.


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.


A native plant to the U.S. Southwestern regions, the yucca is a member of the agave family, characterized by stiff, sword-like leaves. In the center of the yucca plant grow its long spikes that carry clusters of white, bell-shaped flowers. There are over forty species of yucca, and the indigenous peoples of the Southwest have a long history of utilizing the plant's thick, strong fibers in woven textiles and cords. Although woven yucca textiles are no longer in use, the cords remain vital elements in rituals. The Zuni people, for example, use these cords to tie prayer plumes and wands. The pulp and sap of the plant can also be used as a soap, especially for hair washing.

The yucca flower is the state flower of New Mexico.

Santa Fe Railroad

Chartered in 1863 as the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, this railway didn't make it to Santa Fe, NM until 1880 when it connected New Mexico in the east to the Southern Pacific Railroad in the west. In 1895, the railway was reorganized as the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company because of poor management, and in 1996 it merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad.


A physiological state where the practitioner seems to be in a dream-like condition. Often linked to mysticism or ceremonies in which the practitioner is in another consciousness.

Among the Navajo healing traditions, diagnosticians enter trance-like states as they search for the cause of an illness or imbalance. In many cases, the trance is more akin to waiting for an answer to appear than it parsing through surface signs and symptoms. These trances can be induced by the ingestion of jimsonweed, also known as sacred datura, and other substances, although often the trance is induced mentally by the practitioner.

Consuming peyote also induces a trance-like state, where it is common for the practitioner to experience the sensation of going on a journey, something akin to a vision quest. Peyote rituals are part of the Native American Church, which blends indigenous spiritual traditions with elements of Christianity.

tribal jail

Tribal jails are correctional systems maintained by individual tribes and sovereign nations as part of their own Public Safety Departments or Departments of Corrections. As with non-tribal jails, tribal jails are locally-run short-term holding facilities, whereas prisons, at the state and federal levels, are detention centers for those serving longer sentences.

The Navajo system currently maintains several adult and juvenile correctional facilities. The correctional facilities in the Navajo Nation were established under the Navajo government in the 1990’s but there were federally-funded tribal jails built on the reservation in the 1960’s to the 1970’s. New facilities and associated services and infrastructure continue to be built around the reservation, adding to the original tribal jail in Window Rock. Navajo Nation jails can now be found in Tuba City, Crownpoint, and Kayenta, with plans for adding jails in Chinle and Ft. Defiance.


Subscribe to RSS - Listening Woman (1978)