Historical Reference

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.


A reference to collaborative Southwestern archaeological excavations of the early 20th century completed by Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution. These excavations include sites such as Mesa Verde and Pueblo Bonito, among others.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology is a museum associated with Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and funded excavations in archaeological sites throughout the U.S. Similarly, the Smithsonian backed many large excavations in the Southwest. The Smithsonian is a private institution that is in the trust of the U.S. government and funds museums, research centers, libraries, and more. The Smithsonian is based in Washington D.C.

Pusan Beachhead, South Korea

During the Korean War (1950-1953), South Korean and United Nations forces were forced to retreat to Pusan Beachhead, now known as Busan, after a series of unsuccessful battles with the North Korean Army. This beachhead is located in the far southeast portion of the Korean Peninsula. The combined forces fought to retain control of the beachhead, as the loss of this area would have meant the loss of the entire Korean Peninsula. Realizing that continuing a battle at Pusan would result in an untenable number of deaths of UN peacekeeping forces, Supreme Commander of U.N. forces, General Douglas MacArthur, staged an aquatic landing behind enemy lines. The U.S-led U.N. forces invaded Inchon, located along the northwest coast of the peninsula, and regained control of Seoul. The U.N. troops then pressed south, cutting off supplies for the North Korean Army. This allowed the troops in Pusan Beachhead to resupply from the Port of Pusan and push the North Korean army north toward MacArthur's advancing forces.

Dewey Landslide

In politics, a landslide describes an electoral victory in which a candidate wins by a sweeping majority of votes. In the election of 1948, Thomas E. Dewey, who was the U.S. Republican presidential candidate running against Harry S. Truman, was predicted to win a landslide victory. However, despite the assurance of pre-election polls, commentators, and journalists, Truman was the one who ended up winning the election, surprising many experts. The wrong predictions were made famous by the headline of the Chicago Daily Tribune, printed early in the morning of November 3, 1948, before the final results were clear, which read "Dewey Defeats Truman". A few hours later the newspaper corrected the mistake by printed a second edition announcing Truman's unexpected victory, but a copy of the early edition had already found its way to the hands of the elected president, who posed with it in what became a historical photograph that to this day stands as an iconic representation of embarrassing media mistakes.

Ghost Dance

The Ghost Dance was a spiritual tradition that was adopted by various Native American groups around North America in the late 1800s. The dance was based in the teachings of the Northern Paiute leader Wovoka, who had envisioned an end to white occupation and expansion, accompanied by the restoration of peace, harmony, and prosperity for all native peoples. Wovoka's teachings focused on good conduct, honesty, and communal cooperation, and the dance itself was a circle dance performed to the beat of drums, with singing and intermittent phases of trance or prophesying. The Ghost Dance movement, which carried the promise of hope to Native communities that were diminishing and suffering as removal to reservations, disease, and starvation were taking their toll, spread rapidly among many tribes across the U.S. Although a peaceful practice, the Ghost Dance was perceived by the U.S. government as a threatening force that might instigate united indigenous resistance. In some cases, like the breaking of the treaty with the Lakota in 1890 and the ensuing massacre at Wounded Knee, the government’s reaction to the perceived threat was unreasonable and extreme, resulting in the death of large numbers of Native Americans, many of them women and children, who had gathered to participate in the dance in an endeavor to promote peace.

The term “ghost dance” as it appears in Tony Hillerman’s 1980 novel People of Darkness, however, may not be related to the actual historical tradition. It may be a colloquial reference to a generalized Native American ritual of protection.

Grants Daily Beacon

The Grants Daily Beacon was a newspaper founded by J.B. Barber and published in Grants, New Mexico, between the years 1959-1990. The newspaper provided reports and stories on local news and events. In 1990 it changed hands as well as title, and is now being published under the name Cibola County Beacon.

switchboard operator

In the early days of the telephone, calls had to be connected manually by inserting two phone plugs into specific ports, one from the caller and one for the called, in a panel called the switchboard. The switchboard operator was the individual who connected these calls. Until the advent of direct dialing, all calls went through operators. The first telephone operator was named George William Croy, who found his "calling" in 1878. It later it became a trend in the United States for this position to be held by women, with the reasoning behind this being that women were expected to be more courteous to customers than men. Moreover, women would work for much lower wages than men, making the exploitation of their gender an integral part of the developing telecommunications industry. Because switchboard operators were often the public face of an organization, the convention of hiring beautiful women became part of the culture associated with switchboard operators, who became in some senses associated with the pretty, independent, and wholesome “All American Girl.”

J. Edgar Hoover

A U.S. government official who was instrumental in founding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and who served as its director from its official initiation in 1935 until his death in 1972. Hoover is known for developing the FBI into a powerful agency of federal law enforcement. However, he was and still is a controversial figure, as there is significant evidence showing that he secretly abused his authority by using illegal methods of surveillance, collecting evidence, and intimidating or harassing criminals as well as non-violent political activists. According to some critics, Hoover was able to maintain his position as director of the FBI for so many years by keeping secret personnel files on political leaders that he used as blackmail whenever the his tenure as director of the FBI was threatened.

jimmy blade

A colloquial reference to a Bowie knife, a fixed blade, as opposed to a switch blade, knife named after the infamous knifefighter Jim Bowie, who was killed at the Battle of the Alamo in Texas in 1836.


The term, which is rarely in use these days, refers specifically to a female student at a co-educational institution such as a college or university with both male and female students.


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