Listening Woman (1978)

Listening Woman (1978)

Talking God

Also known as Talking God to Be One, Soft Talker, or Dawn Bearer (hastseyalti, yeibeichai), Talking God is a main Navajo deity. One of the four Holy People who live in the mountains, Talking God is associated with the color white, acts as a mentor, guides human life, helps Changing Woman give birth to and prepare the Monster Slayer Twins for their fateful battles, and can travel on rainbows. He plays a very large role in the Navajo creation story, helping create First Man and First Woman among other things .

Talking God is also known for his compassion, being one of the few deities in the Navajo cosmology who is a constant advocate on behalf of The People, which is how the Navajo, or Diné, refer to themselves.


A wide-brimmed and high-crowned hat generally made of felt that was originally made by John B. Stetson Company, founded in 1865. Known as “Boss of the Plains,” this hat is often worn by men and women working in relatively extreme weather conditions, such as the high plains, intermountain west, and the southern deserts. The high crown allows air to flow over the top of the head better than other hats, while still providing scalp and facial protection from the sun. Although the company, now known simply as "Stetson," manufactures other products including apparel, perfume, and bourbon, the Stetson hat became and remained crucial to the business as the most popular object produced by the company, earning an iconic association with the American West.


The Navajo Ye-i, also often spelled yeii or yei, are something along the lines of spirit, god, demon, or monster. According to what is known of the Navajo origin story, these spiritual beings emerged from the lower worlds before the creation of the human race. At times they are referred to as Holy People. These Holy People are immortal beings that can take the form of animals, plants, landscape elements, or celestial bodies, but are viewed as supernatural beings and not deities. They are called holy because of their power and mystery and the fact that they live in the sacred realm.

Because the Navajo believe that the land, the immortal beings, and they themselves on earth are all connected, they strive to live life according to hozho, which translates roughly to harmony, balance, and beauty. The Ye-i can be called down to earth through ceremonies, rituals, and prayers and asked to help restore hozho when things fall out of balance. Ye-i are often drawn in sandpaintings during certain healing ceremonials, and depending on the ritual, Ye-i masks may be worn by participants to represent the supernatural beings. If the ceremony is performed in the correct way, and the Ye-i are pleased, then according to the belief they feel obliged to right the wrong that is disrupting the harmony or cure the sick patient.


The piñón or pinyon, is a type of pine tree that is native to the American Southwest and is common in the woodlands of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California. The pinyon pine is a relatively short tree that does not usually grow over 20-50 feet. It is characterized by its rounded form and branches that extend outward. The tree grows very slowly, reaching maturity around 100 years, and on average lives to be 350-450 years old. Pinyon pines produce edible pine nuts that have been a major food source for Native American peoples for centuries, and the tree's timber was used in early pueblo and cliff dwelling structures. The pinyon pine is known as the official state tree of New Mexico..


The ancestor of modern dogs, a wolf is a carnivorous mammal that walks on all fours and hunts in groups known as packs. There are three species of wolves: Canis lupus (gray/timber wolf), Canis rufus (red wolf), and Canis simensis (Abyssinian wolf). Wolves are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere and are members of the family Canid.

In the Southwest there used to be a subspecies of the gray wolf, the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). They were hunted out of existence in the wild in the 1970s, and the only surviving wolves were in zoos. In 1998, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service introduced eleven Mexican gray wolves back into the wild and now the subspecies is slowly growing in number.

wagon track

A two-track path created by four-wheeled wagons drawn by draft animals such as oxen or horses. The wheels created two ruts, marking routes that other travelers could follow and that left traces over the landscape that could be read for centuries. Travelers in wagons would often follow routes already created by indigenous peoples, appropriating traditional travel ways that had been previously used for trade and pilgrimage.

Indian Country

Tony Hillerman's use of the term Indian country throughout his Navajo detective series is suggestive more of a concept and a state of mind than a specific territorial reference, a romanticized evocation of the high desert and red mesa landscapes that fill the Four Corners regions of the Southwestern U.S. Hillerman's usage of the term, however, also shares a resonance with the 19th-century use of the term, which was originally a somewhat pejorative reference to the always-receding lands west of the expanding U.S. frontier. Indian Country was wild, unsettled, and ripe for the taking, once the indigenous populations had been subdued and removed. Although Hillerman was an advocate for rather than an enemy of the peoples whose cultures he sketched into his novels, it's telling that one of his most used resources was an American Automobile Association map entitled "Indian Country," a detailed map of the roads and routes on the Navajo Reservation.

Today Indian Country is defined by law as land that is part of an Indian reservation, and in some cases federal trust land, which is officially owned by the U.S. government but is legally entrusted to a tribe. In the context of Tony Hillerman’s work, the term “Indian Country” refers to the territory of the Navajo Nation, which is the largest reservation in the U.S., and which spreads over northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and small portions of southern Utah and Colorado.


The name Texas originates from the Caddo word “thecas,” which means “allies or friends.” Texas became a state in 1845 and is the second largest state in the United States. First inhabited by numerous indigenous groups, Texas has a rich and complicated history comprised of distinct waves of colonization, settlement, slavery, and rebellion. Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the U.S have all ruled over the Texas territory.

The state's growth has been driven by the cattle, agricultural, and petroleum industries. Texas is often associated with frontier culture and mythology and has a strong tourism industry with popular sights including the Alamo, Fort Worth, the Space Center, Padre Island, and others. Texas is also known for its beautiful landscapes, including the rugged beauty of the Chihuahuan desert, the swampy wetlands of the Piney Woods ecosystem of East Texas, and its long coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. Texas is also recognized for its racial and ethnic diversity, cultural hotspots, and dense urbanity in cities including Austin, Dallas, and Houston.


A layer of the earth’s atmosphere above the troposphere and just below the mesosphere. This layer is stratified, with the upper layers being much warmer than the lower levels. At the earth's surface, on the other hand, temperature decreases with altitude. One of the reasons that the upper reaches of the stratosphere are warmer than the lower reaches is because the stratosphere also includes the ozone layer, which is composed of a type of oxygen molecule by the same name. The ozone layer traps ultraviolet rays from the sun, causing a chemical reaction that releases small, yet incrementally cumulative, amounts of heat, thereby providing a protective thermal layer for the earth.

.38 caliber pistol

Sometimes known as a .38 special, this caliber of gun can be found with either a revolving or a semi-automatic firing mechanism. In addition, the bullets fired from this gun can be either center-fired or rimmed. Center-fire cartridges are primed and struck in the center of the cartridge base, whereas rim-fire cartridges are primed and struck on the protruding rim on the base of the cartridge. Due to its minimal recoil, which is the reactive movement of a gun after firing, and its accuracy, the .38 caliber is a popular gun.


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