People of Darkness (1980)

People of Darkness (1980)

Gallup, New Mexico

Gallup is the most populous city along I-40 between Flagstaff, AZ and Albuquerque, NM , which is the interstate overlay of "the mother road," Route 66. The city was founded in 1881 and named for David Gallup, an employee of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. Gallup is also located just to the southeast of the Navajo Nation and has become known for its Native population, "trading post" pawn shops, and its high rate of alcoholism, among other things. As one of the U.S.'s last remaining frontier outposts, intercultural exchanges seem intensified in this border railroad town, as it's the last stop before entering reservation country. In many senses, Gallup maintains a thriving intercultural population, despite the poverty, and the violences associated with poverty, that afflict a great portion of the city's population. Often referred to as the capital of Indian Country, Gallup has also been, and remains, an ideal location for creating cinematic representations of an iconic Southwest, because of its natural scenery as well as the rich Native American cultural traditions that have coalesced in the city.


A traditional greeting in Navajo, often spelled yá át tééh, which translates generally as "it is good."


War is significant in Hillerman's lexicon, as it is often an expression, if not the cause, of imbalance and physical and psychological illness. However, when it is used literally, war is the state of aggression between two or more groups that often ends with violent attacks against each other.


A facial expression indicating disgust, wry irony, displeasure, pain, or some level of emotional or physical discomfort.

gall bladder

A small organ that releases bile, a bitter and acidic substance, into the small intestine.

In Native American cultures, the gallbladder is used to make a variety of traditional medicines. The gall from many animals can be used for similar effect, including those of eagles, mountain lions, bears, skunks, and occasionally sheep, wolves, badgers, and deer. Navajos carry this medicine with them for protection against witches, corpse poison, and strangers. It is most often carried on their person when they are in a crowd, or when traveling outside their home territory, particularly where there could be witches.


A scholar working within the discipline of anthropology, which is the study of humans. As a discursive field of studies, anthropology can be broadly divided into four areas: Cultural Anthropology (Ethnology), Physical Anthropology (Evolutionary Anthropology), Linguistics, and Archaeology. Each area can be divided into sub-categories. For example, physical anthropology covers zoology, evolution, and ecology, each of which can be further broken down into subfields of specialization.


Also known as chert, flint is an exceptionally hard sedimentary rock that is therefore especially desirable when making stone tools that need to have and keep edges. Flint is found most often in masses of nodules that, when fractured, break into sharp-edged pieces. For at least two million years, humans have used a chipping method known as flint knapping to shape flint rock into spear points, arrowheads, blades, and other sharp tools.

Depending on soil composition, chert can occur in a wide range of colors. The term flint is generally used to indicate the darker varieties of chert. Blue flint can be found in New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest. It is deep blue or gray-blue in color and has been used to make jewelry as well as tools.


A relative measure of height that is applied to topography. The measuring starts with zero being sea-level. High altitude is usually defined as beginning around 8,000 feet above sea level.

The Four Corners region, within which most of Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective stories take place, is considered to be within the range of high altitude, with many mountains and peaks rising well above 8,000 feet. At high altitude, the atmosphere is thinner than at sea level, with resultant changes in ecosystem dispersal, weather patterns (dependent upon local and regional topography), and oxygen levels in the air.


A formal or prescribed set of observances that make up a regular practice, especially one carrying spiritual significance. A ritual can be performed alone or in small or large groups. Most communities around the world, have recurring gatherings, celebrations, or commemorations that are always performed in the same way according to agreed-upon standards. Such behaviors and events become ritualistic traditions that are often carried out through decades, centuries, or even millennia of repeated practices.


William Shakespeare was an English playwright, actor, and poet who is the author of some of the world’s most famous plays. He was born in 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England during the Renaissance. He authored 154 sonnets, 38 plays, and other poems and verses. The plays touched on such topics as comedy, tragedy, and historic persons and events. His most famous plays include: Romeo and Juliet; The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; The Tragedy of Macbeth; The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice; and King Lear. Shakespeare was the partial owner of the playing company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and they had exclusive rights to perform his plays. This company was later renamed The King’s Men upon the coronation of King James I, after the death of Queen Elizabeth I. Shakespeare died in 1616 in Stratford-Upon-Avon.


Subscribe to RSS - People of Darkness (1980)