People of Darkness (1980)

People of Darkness (1980)

burial customs

The practices related to the ritual act of disposing of a dead person’s body. Burial customs reflect the world views and religious beliefs of the particular culture, and differ in various communities. In most Western societies, for example, death is feared and rejected, but the dead are commemorated and cherished through traditions such as regular visits to the grave site, placing pictures of the deceased around the house, and holding on to objects that belonged to the dead. In the Christian tradition in particular, the belief in an afterlife allows for a continuation of the relationship between the living and the dead.

In contrast, in Navajo culture death itself is not feared, but accepted as a fact of life. However, the dead are a great source of terror, and any contact with them is to be avoided. The Navajo believe that after death the body is insignificant, and even the identity of the person disappears. In order for the spirit to be properly released to the underworld, all ties must be cut. In many cases that includes a careful destruction (often through burning) of the dead’s personal possessions, to ensure that the ghost will not linger in the world of the living as a negative, haunting presence.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is part of the United States Department of the Interior established on March 11, 1824. The mission of this bureau is to provide services to the 566 federally recognized Native American tribes and Alaska Natives in the United States. The BIA also administers and manages over 55 million acres of land within the U.S. The BIA is one of two bureaus under the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, the other being the Bureau of Indian Education.

Native American groups have clashed with the BIA because they believe the agency is not doing all it can for the groups it is pledged to support. Many of these claims of neglect, mismanagement, misappropriated funds, and hypocritical bureaucratic standards and procedures have been proven in courts of law.


A protective rim found at the front and rear of most vehicles. The bumper protects the body of the vehicle from incidental contact with objects, such as brush, debris, and even minor contact with other vehicles (for example the minor dings that can occur while parallel parking). The bumper is also engineered to absorb high impact contact and lessen the damage during an automobile accident. Rear bumpers have also become the site for automobile owners to decorate their car with eye-catching bumper stickers that communicate slogans, notices, cultural commentary, or political propaganda.

buffalo grass

Buffalo grass (Bouteloua dactyloides) is a prairie grass found in the western regions of North America. It has curling leaves and grows in thick patches. Buffalo grass is a short grass that is cold, heat, and drought resistant. Historically, buffalo grass was used to make sod houses during the westward expansion.

Born of Water

In Navajo mythology, Born of Water, also known as Water Child, is one of the twin sons of Changing Woman born to rid the earth of the monsters who were killing the People. Born of Water is the younger twin, known as Tobadzîschíni in Diné.

The twins are set a series of trials and, with the completion of each task, they get that much closer to achieving their final goal, which is gaining the tools and knowledge they need to save their People. After successfully completing many initial challenges, they are given weapons. The younger twin, Born of Water, is given prayer sticks and told to watch them as the older twin, Monster Slayer, goes out to fight the monsters. If the prayer sticks begin to burn, Born of Water will know that Monster Slayer is in danger and needs help. Monster Slayer goes alone to kill some of the monsters, and Born of Water accompanies him while killing others.

Blue Flint Boys

Also known as the Hard Flint Boys, the Blue Flint Boys are playful characters that work as intermediaries between Black God, who controls the sky, and the Navajo. Sometimes represented as whirlwinds and dustdevils, the Boys run back and forth, playfully sharing healing knowledge, while their parents, Hard Flint Woman and Man, attempt to assert control over their children. The Boys are credited with passing on advice from Black God to Monster Slayer, for example, and have a ceremonial role in various Navajo curing ceremonials such as the Enemyway.

The Blue Flint boys are also recognized in the night sky as the constellation Pleiades, adorning the forehead of Black God, appearing during planting season.

Black God

Black God (Haashchʼééshzhiní), sometimes referred to as Darkness to Be One by Tony Hillerman, is the god of fire and creator of the stars in Navajo mythology. Not all accounts credit him with the creation of the constellations, but all credit him with the creation of fire and light as found in the stars. As one story goes, when the Black God entered the hogan the Holy People noticed Pleiades, the Hard Flint Boys, attached to his ankle. When asked why the constellation was there the Black God stomped his feet and the stars leaped up his leg until they reached his head. After he did this impressive act, the Black God was allowed to place all the other constellations in the sky. However, while he completed this task Coyote came along and also wanted to place stars; he grabbed a handful of stars and threw them in the sky. This is why there are named constellations and other random non-clustered stars in the night sky.


A handheld optical instrument with magnifying abilities, composed of two telescopes and a focusing device. Binoculars are used to observe objects at a distance for the purpose of examining them closely.

big-game hunter

Big-game hunting is the hunting of large wild animals such as bear, lions, leopards, elk, moose, or bison. Big-game hunters often display the heads of their hunted animals on the walls.

Frank Lloyd Wright

A renowned and prolific American architect famous for designing numerous public buildings as well as residential homes. He is credited as the main contributor to the "prairie school" of architecture, established in the late 1800s and maturing in 1900. Prairie style architecture is characterized by comfort and spaciousness that is achieved through bold, plain walls; low, wide roofs; continuous windows; and large rooms that flow together in an open floor plan. The prairie-style homes designed by Wright in the early 1900s set the tone for the mass production of similar residential homes that were built all over the United Stated throughout the twentieth century.

Some of Wrights' famous designs include the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City (1959); the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma (1956); and the Marin County Civic Center near San Francisco (1960-1976).


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