Listening Woman (1978)

Listening Woman (1978)

Navajo Nation

Although the Navajo Nation can in some senses refer to the Navajo Reservation as a territory, and in other senses to the Navajo as a people, the Navajo Nation is a specific reference to the governmental entity that engages with other nation-states in the management and negotiation of Navajo tribal sovereignty. In this sense, the Navajo Nation can incorporate elements of territorial sovereignty as well as the cultural bedrock comprised of Navajo traditional lifeways and language, but it is a distinct governing body that participates in the political, economic, educational, and social realms at a transnational, and sometimes international, level on behalf of the Navajo people.

On April 15, 1969, the Navajo tribal government officially rejected the U.S-designated assignation of "tribe" and self-identified as "nation." From that point forward, governing bodies such as the Navajo Tribal Police became the Navajo Nation Police

Window Rock Navajo Police Department

Located in the southern portion of the Navajo Nation Reservation, Window Rock Police Department serves as the headquarters for the Department of Public Safety of the Navajo Nation. Window Rock is located in the Navajo Nation's District 1 and is commanded either by a Police Captain or Lieutenant, who ensures that the district is run properly, including criminal investigations, area patrol, and public services support. Additionally, in Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series, Window Rock is the station to which Joe Leaphorn is assigned.

Throughout Hillerman's novels, "Window Rock" is used metonymically to refer to the Navajo Nation Police headquarters.


In the context in which Tony Hillerman tends to use the word "beauty," it refers to the Navajo concept of hózhǫ́, the state in which all living things are ordered, in balance, and walking in beauty. The opposite of hózhǫ́ is hóchxǫ́ǫ́, which refers to disorder and chaos in one’s life. In Hillerman's work, chaos and imbalance manifest as as physical or mental illness, infections of the body and soul contracted from contact with mainstream U.S. culture.


The 31st state to join the Union, California was originally settled by hundreds of small, seminomadic indigenous groups before becoming the part of the Spanish Empire known as Alta, or upper, California. After the war of independence between Mexico and Spain, in 1821 California became a part of Mexico and then a part of the United States of America after the Mexican-American War in 1848. Although the name "California" derives from a 17th-century Spanish romance about an island of gold, in 1848, with the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill, California became known as "the golden state" as thousands of people migrated to California by land, over well-established trails, and by boat, thus marking the beginning of the California Gold Rush.

There are a number of iconic landscapes and architectural sites in the state including Yosemite National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland, Redwood National Park, Lake Tahoe, Death Valley, and Hollywood to name but only a few. The state is best known for its connections to the film industry, the wine making business, and its agriculture, which was wrested from the western deserts via huge irrigation projects and the back-breaking labor of often undocumented immigrant farm workers.


Also known as an arroyo seco, gulch, or gully, a wash is a dry stream or river bed that does not hold water most of the time, but that is subject to seasonal flooding. Washes vary greatly in depth, width and length, and can be found all over the world in semiarid and desert areas. They are common throughout New Mexico and Southwestern parts of the U.S., where prolonged droughts keep them dry and heavy rains make them prone to flash flooding.

Third World

Although there are many versions of the Navajo origin story, in general the primary components and occurrences are present in most versions. According to the Diné Bahaneʼ, or the Story of the People, the Navajo emerged through various worlds to get to the present world, which is considered either the fourth of the fifth world. The Third World ( Niʼ Hałtsooí) is the Yellow World, and was entered after the People left the First, or Dark World, and the Second, or Blue World. In the Third World, a great flood occurred after Coyote stole two children from a the Big Water Creature (Tééhoołtsódii), whereas in the first two worlds, the People had fought amongst themselves and the creatures belonging to those worlds causing discord, insult, and anguish until they were asked to leave.


Geologic faults form along the edges of tectonic plates, which are planar fractures in the earth’s crust, as the plates become compressed or filled with tension as they are forced together. When faults move, they can form valleys and mountains. In addition, as faults react to the forces that the huge tectonic plates exert against each other, fissures perpendicular to the earth's surface can extend deep below ground to reserves of molten rock, which, if they reach the surface, form volcanos. When the energy of plates under compression is released as the plates grind against each other, it can also cause earthquakes. There are many faults in the American Southwest, both active and inactive, including the Rio Grande Rift in New Mexico.


This is the name the menstruation, puberty, or maturity ceremony that celebrates a Navajo girl's entrance into womanhood. There are different accounts of the processes, chronology, and rituals within the ceremony, but the aspects outlined below account for many of the variations found within the varying versions of the ceremony.

This ritual has been passed down through generations, originating with First Woman's daughter, Changing Woman, who had a kinaaldá so that the earth people could have children and be together in a way approved of by the Holy People. The first kinaaldá ceremony was performed at Emergence Place in First Woman's house. In the first kinaaldá Changing Woman ran in the direction of the sunrise four times, washed her hair in the suds of a yucca plant, was blessed and "molded" into a woman by her mother, and baked a large corn cake for the Sun. In some versions of the story, it is thought that White Shell Woman becomes Changing Woman during this ceremony.

In emulation of the coming to maturity of Changing Woman, shortly after her first menstruation, a young Navajo girl engages in a variety of tasks and traditional actions, many of which are performed alongside the women in her community. Some of these activities include washing of hair, being dressed and prepared by female family members, fasting, running long distances, offering and receiving blessings, and the making of a corn meal cake. On the final night, a hataalii (ceremonial healer) sings the twelve hogan songs with all in attendance participating in the sing until morning.

Yeibachi (sic) Yeibichai

Known as Yébîchai in Navajo, the Nightway is a ceremonial that lasts nine nights and is performed by a singer to heal a patient, although family members and friends are often present in the hogan, along with the Holy People, for the healing. The Nightway includes singing, dancing, pollen blessing, sandpainting, sweating, and other offerings and rituals.

This is one of the only ceremonials occasionally performed in public, but the patient decides which parts of the Nightway are private and which are left open. On the last night, masked dancers appear dressed as "yei", or spiritual beings to conclude the ceremony.

Zuni people and culture

Zuni is the name of both a people and a pueblo. The people's original name was A'shiwi, meaning "the flesh." The Zuni currently occupy Zuni Pueblo on the Zuni reservation in western New Mexico, a site that was formerly known as Halona, or "the Middle Place." Being one of the first pueblos contacted by Spanish explorers, the history between the Zuni and European colonists is long and fraught with violence, yet the Zuni have maintained many significant components of their way of life, including their language and their spiritual practices. The Zuni are known for their unique farming methods and skills, their silversmithing, and their traditional ceremonies, especially the winter solstice Shalako celebration.


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