Listening Woman (1978)

Listening Woman (1978)


Runoff occurs when water from snowmelt or rain runs along the surface of the earth without being absorbed into the soil. Over time, runoff contributes to erosion. In large amounts, runoff can cause flooding.


A sharp bend in a road, path, trail, or even railroad that results in a zigzag movement through time and space, usually in order to travel up or down a mountain. Although switchbacks, also referred to as doglegs, add time and distance to a route, they lessen the amount of vertical climb or descent accomplished over a given distance.

Hopi Reservation, Arizona

The Hopi have lived in the U.S. Southwest for thousands of years, and while their ancestral lands span large swaths of the Southwest, the Hopi Reservation currently covers 1.5 million acres of northeastern Arizona. Within this tract of land there are twelve villages and three mesas. The Hopi Reservation is situated within the Navajo Nation Reservation, a relationship that has caused conflict for over 100 years, as a number of land disputes has resulted in the decrease in size of Hopi land and the creation of a shared Joint-Use territory. While a majority of the Hopi live on three mesas, First, Second, and Third Mesas, there is a Hopi farming community near Tuba City, established in the 1870’s.

Hopi lands first came under control of the U.S. government in 1848 at the end of the Mexican-American War. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, where Mexico ceded the southwest, Wyoming, and California to the United States of America. As the Hopi historically avoided interaction with the U.S. government and have always attempted to maintain privacy and sovereignty, the boundary of the Hopi reservation was not determined until 1882. The 1882 U.S. Executive Order-Hopi Indian Reservation originally allotted 2.4 million acres of land to the Hopi. However, this is only a fraction the original 15-million-acre Hopi Tutskwa, or aboriginal Hopi lands. Additionally, when the boundary was drawn, it exclude a large portion of the historic tribal land on which sacred sites, shrines, and villages existed. Later, Hopi reservation land was further reduced in size to 1.5 million acres. The current Hopi tribal lands include the main reservation, the Moenkopi District Reservation, and the Hopi Three Canyon Ranch Lands.


A four-wheeled wooden vehicle that is pulled by draft animals such as oxen and horses. They generally have metal wheels and a suspension system to help navigate. These vehicles have been used for the last 2,000 years; however, with the advent of motorized vehicles they have fallen into disuse.


A Navajo term which means “those who wander around,” in reference to Spaniards who conducted expeditions into the Southwest and Great Plains during the 1500s, beginning with Coronado's search for the Seven Cities of Cibola. The earliest recorded contact between the Spaniards and Navajo occurred in 1583 near Mount Taylor in New Mexico. This term is used colloquially by some Navajo to denote someone who is ethnically Hispanic or Mexican.


Although many indigenous groups in the U.S. Southwest are considered master jewelry makers and silversmiths, with unique designs and methods to their credit, silversmithing did not become a skilled trade in these communities until after European contact in the region occurred. The Navajo, for example, first obtained silver ornaments by trading with the Plains Indians, who had received it from German settlers, and also from the indigenous, Spanish, and later Mexican, further south. It was not until after the 1860s and the war on the Navajo, which culminated in the Long Walk to Bosque Redondo, that Navajo took up silversmithing as their own trade, extracting the silver from U.S. coins. They quickly incorporated turquoise, abundant in the southwest and already used for many purpose, into their work. For Navajo singers and medicine men, medicine bundles and pouches were often decorated with silver, along with fringe and turquoise.


A word that can be substituted for witchcraft, witching, sorcery, or magic, used by Tony Hillerman to refer to the work of people known in some Native American traditions as witches. It is useful to keep in mind that "witch" is a word imposed on some aspects of indigenous cultural traditions by anthropologists, who did not have the knowledge to understand or the language to describe what they witnessed in these traditions. In Hillerman's Navajo detective novels, witches are believed to cause imbalances associated with greed, violence, and other maladies associated with modernity.

Nokaito Bench, AZ

The Nokaito (also known as Nakaito) bench, which is called Naakaiitó or Mexican Spring in Navajo, is an elevated plain running north and south just to the west of the Chinle Wash in Southern Utah. On the north end it starts just below the San Juan River and runs south past the Arizona state line to the juncture of Walker Creek and Chinle Wash.


In some versions of Navajo traditional beliefs, when people die, their ghosts, which are understood as their essence or spirit, can linger in the place of dying and possible cause harm to the living. The Navajo word for a ghost is “chindi," and chindi is associated with ghost sickness, a malaise that can manifest through a variety of physical, mental, or emotional symptoms. There are very specific precautions used to prevent ghost sickness, such as avoiding all contact with the deceased person's belongings, destroying the person's possessions whenever possible, and removing footprints from around the site of the grave. Additionally, if a Navajo were to die inside his/her dwelling place, their ghost is thought to be released into the room, where it can remain for a long time. If this happens, then the hogan would have to be permanently vacated in order to avoid potentially infecting any Navajo who entered it. In such cases, the dead person would either be left in the hogan or brought out of the structure through a hole made in the northern wall. After the deceased has been removed from the hogan, the house is never to be inhabited again in hopes that the ghost will eventually leave through the same hole that was made in the north-facing wall.

In the Navajo belief system, ghosts are generally not perceived as malevolent, but as a natural phenomenon that is part of the transformation entailed in the dying process. Right before death ghosts are often described as dark shadows, and after death they may reappear on earth in the form of an animal, whirlwind, or certain unusual sounds and movements. Ghosts tend to become malignant forces when the corpse is not handled properly in the prescribed manner set by traditional customs.


Sagebrush, often shortened to "sage," is the name of a group of plants that are commonly referred to as sagebrushes or sageworts. These are plants in the genus Artemisia, a large genus in the daisy and ragweed family, and are often used as a culinary herb or tea in different cultures around the world. The sagebrush that is native to the American Southwestern regions is a low-growing bush that is characterized by its grayish-green color and aromatic leaves.

Sagebrush is widely used in various Native American ceremonies, and is thought to have cleansing and healing properties. Traditionally, sage leaves are dried and tied into bundles that in English are called "smudge sticks." when the end of the smudge stick is lit and allowed to smolder, the dried, tightly-bound sage leaves burn slowly like incense, producing thick smoke that is believed to act as an energy cleanser and protector for a person or a dwelling place.


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