Listening Woman (1978)

Listening Woman (1978)


The most common substance used in the U.S. for paving roads. Asphalt concrete (also called tarmac) is produced by laying heated refined crude oils over a layer of aggregate materials such as sand and gravel. The mixture is then rolled and pressed onto the road to create a solid, durable surface layer.


The rhythm or beat of a sequence of sounds, for example in spoken language.

Fourth World

Although there are many variations of the creation myth among the indigenous peoples of the Southwest, basic elements of the story are repeated and point to similar historical, spiritual, and ethical concepts. The Navajo origin story, for example, tells of the emergence of the mythological ancestors, the Insect People, from the First World, which was a dark and chaotic underworld. From that first world, the people journeyed through four more realms until they reached their mature existence on Earth as we know it now, which, depending on the version, is known as either the Fourth or the Fifth World. The tales of transitioning through the realms illustrate spiritual and moral development, which, according to the stories, is a search for order and peace that is usually triggered by conflict and misconduct. Above this present existence there is believed to be a Sixth world of perfect harmony.

Whether the current world is numbered the Fourth or the Fifth, in several indigenous traditions, the previous world is remembered as one without color,only black and white. In this last transitional realm before reaching the surface world, First Man and First Woman came into being, and the Insect People, with the help of the gods and the Kisani (Pueblo people) assumed their final human form and were taught how to farm, hunt, speak, and perform ceremonies. They lived in peace for a long time, but then quarrels arose and induced conflicts, hardships, and an eventual flood that destroyed life in the Fourth World and carried the People into the Fifth World. In the Fifth World, the present surface reality, the Dinehtah (the Navajo homeland) was created. The four sacred mountains were established (Mount Blanca in the east, Mount Taylor in the south, the San Francisco Peaks in the west, and Mount Hesperus in the north), and rain was made. Finally, light and color entered the world with the creation of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

In the Hopi tradition, the fourth world is representative of the world the Hopi live in today. Each of the previous worlds are below one another, going deeper into the ground. When the people emerged, they were given permission and guided by the deity Masaw, who had previously been the guardian of the underworld. Taiowa, the Creator, gave Masaw the chance to guard the fourth world after he had lost privileges of guarding the third. Masaw guided the people to their home in Oraibi on Third Mesa and gave them the gift of fire.


Cottonwoods are tall deciduous trees of the genus Populus that are native to North America and Western Asia. These trees can reach up to 148 feet in height and can be identified by their triangular to diamond shaped leaves and deeply fissured bark. Their common name, cottonwood, is due to their cottony seeds. In the Southwest these trees are commonly found in the wetter areas near rivers, for example in the bosque riparian area along the Rio Grande, which runs from southern Colorado through New Mexico until it becomes the natural border between the states of Texas in the U.S. and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas in Mexico.

New Mexico

New Mexico has a long and storied history due to the rich presence of living indigenous traditions that stretch back before European contact; its history of settler colonialism, specifically Spanish, French, and Anglo; and its itinerant border with Mexico. In 1680, the cultural and religious differences between the tribes and the Spanish settlers resulted in the Great Pueblo Revolt of 1680, in which the usually peaceful Native Americans banded together and succeeded in pushing all the Spaniards out of their land. A decade later, the Spanish settlers regained control of the Pueblo peoples and their territory. The territory changed hands several times over the next three centuries as more people of Anglo-European descent moved out west to New Mexico due to the opening of the Santa Fe Trail and later the railroad. To this day, the white inhabitants of the area incorporate various Native and Hispanic and Mexican traditions and cultural elements into their every day lives and special customs, from architectural styles, seasonal and spiritual holidays, and cuisine.


A component of natural gas, butane is usually combined with propane to make liquid propane gas, which is sold in metal containers of various sizes and is used in camping stoves, portable burners, or outdoor grills. Butane is a unique product in that it is easily compressed into liquid form that can be contained, yet when it is released into the air it turns into a highly flammable gas. It is often used as a performance-booster additive in gasoline, and as fuel for personal cigarette lighters.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Located in southeastern Nevada, the city of Las Vegas is a major American tourist destination famous for its flashy casinos, themed hotels, shopping, and large entertainment venues. Nomadic Anasazi and Paiute Native peoples roamed the area until the arrival of Spaniards in the early 1800s. In 1909, the American town was founded as a small railroad service station built on marshland surrounded with grassy meadows, which are the source of its name (in Spanish: "the meadows"). The water that was once abundant in the valley has now mostly dried up due to extensive pumping, the city is known for its hot desert climate and long spells of drought. Las Vegas grew significantly in the 1930s with the construction of the nearby Hoover Dam but it wasn't until after World War II that major entrepreneurs started investing in the city's developing gambling industry. "The Strip" is a long central stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard that underwent rapid growth in the 1960s and over the past few decades has become the main attraction of the city. The Strip boasts immense, architecturally extravagant hotels and casinos that form a postmodern pastiche of old and new styles, imitations of world-famous sites (such as Venice, Paris, New York, or the Egyptian pyramids), and gaudy restaurants and shopping centers.


The 36th state to join the union, Nevada sent their entire constitution to the U.S. capitol via telegram to speed up the admission process. The state is the seventh largest in the U.S. and one of the least populated. Although most of the state is desert, Nevada sits between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas, and is home to the largest number of mountain ranges in any state. Because of the difficult terrain, the area was one of the last in the western part of the U.S. to be explored. A gold rush in the mid-nineteenth century, however, brought many new explorers to the area.

The capital, Carson City, is smaller and less famous than Las Vegas, which is a popular tourist destination known for its casinos and entertainment venues. Gambling and prostitution are both legal in Nevada, and the state hosts the annual Burning Man event. The state is home to Hoover Dam, the largest public works project in U.S. history; Lake Mead, the resulting reservoir that is also the nation's largest; as well as Area 51, the CIA's secret development and military testing headquarters.

Los Angeles, California

A large culturally and racially diverse city located in southern California. Los Angeles is the second most populated city in the U.S., after New York City. The name Los Angeles means “the angels” in Spanish and is hence known as the “City of Angels.” Prior to the 20th century, Los Angeles was not the center of movie-making, leisure, or cultural capitalism that we think of today. The city began as a small village that, in order to distribute the water supply from the Los Angeles and Owens Rivers, consolidated a number of neighboring communities to create one large city. It is for this reason that there are a number of distinct city districts within Los Angeles including: Hollywood, San Pedro, Chinatown, Watts, Boyle Heights, Encino, and Little Tokyo. Before the mid-20th century, agriculture thrived within the city as there were many farms, orchards, and greenhouses. When the film industry moved from the East Coast to California, largely due to the availability of natural light and cheap property values, Los Angeles became a cultural and economic hub of the West Coast. Theater, music, and visual art have proliferated since the 1960s, creating an urban renaissance that corresponded with the physical growth of the city. Its warm climate, beaches, and mountains also make it a popular world-wide tourist destination. The city is also known for its major freeways, traffic, and car culture.

This sprawling city is home to many ethnicities, career options, and socioeconomic classes. There are also a number of Navajo peoples living in Los Angeles as a direct effect of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956. This act encouraged Native Americans to leave their reservations and settle down in large cities by offering vocational training, moving expenses, and some economic help when they first arrived in the cities. The act relocated approximately 750,000 Native Americans into major cities, such as L.A., where they often faced cultural isolation, poverty, discrimination, and other adverse effects.

Joe Leaphorn

Joe Leaphorn, a fictional character created by Tony Hillerman, a Navajo detective for the Navajo Tribal Police and is typically stationed in Window Rock, Arizona. Leaphorn’s last name is a reference to the ancient Minoan practice of bull jumping, about which Hillerman was reading as he wrote THE BLESSING WAY. At the time of his first appearance Hillerman’s 1970 Navajo detective novel THE BLESSING WAY, Leaphorn is already a veteran detective. Because Leaphorn was educated in a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school during high school and then completed a bachelors and master’s degree in anthropology at Arizona State University, his extended time off reservation leaves Leaphorn negotiating between traditional Navajo as well as white ways. Despite his lack of complete knowledge of Navajo rituals, Leaphorn is cognizant that Navajo beliefs are often important aspects of cases. In the early novels Leaphorn works alone; however, in later novels, he and, the much younger and more traditional Navajo policeman, Jim Chee, are tasked to be partners and solve cases together. Unlike Leaphorn, Chee is studying to be a Navajo singer, or hataali, and is much more sensitive to Navajo lifeways. Their very different temperaments often cause tension between the two, but together they are able to solve cases.

Leaphorn was first introduced as a supporting character in THE BLESSING WAY. He then becomes the main character for Hillerman’s Navajo mystery series with Hillerman's next two books in the series, DANCE HALL OF THE DEAD, published in 1973, and LISTENING WOMAN, published in 1978. In the mid-1970s, Hillerman sold the rights to Joe Leaphorn to a Los Angeles-based agency called Bob Banner Associates to produce a movie version of DANCE HALL OF THE DEAD and, possibly, a serial television program based on the life of Joe Leaphorn. Hillerman was unable to use Leaphorn as a character in subsequent novels, even though neither the film nor television options proposed by Banner Associates were ever realized, until Hillerman was able to buy back the rights to his character. Leaphorn returns to Hillerman’s writing in 1986 in the novel SKINWALKERS.


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