Historical Reference

long-barreled pistol

A single-action pistol whose barrel measures 10 inches or longer. Because the barrel of this pistol far exceeds the normal pistol barrel length of four inches, the velocity of bullets fired from long barrel pistols is lower than from short barrel pistols. This is because gas generated during the percussive explosion needed to expel the projectile from the barrel works as a frictive agent, competing with the projectile to exit the barrel. Therefore, the longer the barrel, the slower the velocity of the shot fired due to the increase in friction that results from the increase in barrel length. Colt Manufacturing Company desgined and manufactured eighteen different models of long barrel pistols. Today, these kinds of gun are more for show than for actual use.

The long barrel pistol is also wrapped in mystery. The exemplar of the long barrel pistol is the Buntline Model or Buntline Special, a 12-inch-long pistol famous for being the weapon of the legendary Deputy Town Marshal of Tombstone, Arizona, Wyatt Earp. As the legend goes, a Western literary novelist, Edward Judson, purchased five long barrel pistols at the 1878 St. Louis Exposition and gave them to five lawmen destined for fame or infamy, depending on the story being told. Wyatt Earp, Neal Brown, Charlie Basset, Bill Tilghman, and Bat Masterson were the rumored recipients of these pistols. Because Judson purchased the weapons under a pseudonym, Ned Buntline, they later acquired the name Buntline Model or Buntline Special. While this legend is a nice tale, there is no evidence that it is true.


A light, short-barreled rifle with a limited shooting range. The name carbine originated in the French word "carbin," a lightly-armed cavalry soldier. A carbine rifle can be automatic or semi-automatic.

Indian Wars

Also known as the American Indian wars. The term describes a series of intermittent conflicts involving the native peoples of North America and the European settlers or the federal government between the years 1622-1924. Most of the fighting was the result of expansionist practices on the part of European settlers and the American government. Inter-tribal rivalries among Native Americans and competitive claims to the land among European nations added to the tension and the ongoing struggles. Due to uneven warfare technologies and organizational powers, the European settlers, and later the U.S. government, often had the upper hand in these wars, and the fighting, relocation, and removal ultimately led to a devastating loss of indigenous lives and lands, and the destruction of their cultures, languages, and traditions.

Baldwin steam engine

The Baldwin Locomotive Works was one of the leading American producers of steam trains in the 19th century. The company was founded in the 1830s in Philadelphia, and by the late 1800s rose to the top of the train building industry. With the transition from steam engines into diesel-electric locomotive technology in the early 19th century, however, the company failed to compete successfully, and eventually, in 1956, stopped all operations. A large variety of Baldwin model trains is available and are popular with expert model builders and collectors.

Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (A&P)

An American railroad company that operated, in the second half of the 19th century, two disjointed sections, one in the Midwest and one in the Southwest. The goal of the A&P was to eventually construct railroads connecting the Atlantic coast with the Pacific, but financial problems interfered with the accomplishment of that vision. In the late 1890s the A&P was dissolved and its railroad sections were integrated into the Santa Fe Pacific Railroad. Before its dissolution, however, the A&P instigated the land grabs today associated with the checkerboard reservation, obtaining sections of acreage along proposed railway routes, with or without indigenous ascent. As the archive reveals, Pueblo resistance to railroad appropriations of their lands was bitterly litigated in territorial courts, with the railroad company "vindicating" its claims to "unearned" land grants. Despite the dissolution of the A&P and its subsumption into what would become the AT & SF railroad, the railroad companies were the harbingers of the great final thrust of Manifest Destiny and its associated rapid modernization, romantic commodification, and settler colonial domination of the Southwest.

World War II

Known as the largest "total war," the Second World War, lasting between the years 1939 and 1945, was in some ways a continuation of the First World War, which had ended twenty years earlier but had left unresolved various European geopolitical disputes. World War II involved almost every part of the world, but the main fighting forces were the Axis forces of Germany, Italy, and Japan who opposed the Allied forces of France, Great Britain, and the United States. The war broke when Adolf Hitler, the German dictator, invaded Poland, and Great Britain and France intervened to assist Poland as it was trying to defend itself. After two years of intensive fighting in Europe, the Axis had the upper hand, and Hitler was able to continue his expansive attacks well beyond Poland into other countries in Eastern Europe.

After Japan attacked the United States in Pearl Harbor in 1941, the U.S. entered the war. Battles continued across the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. During 1944 and 1945 the Axis forces suffered severe defeats, and fighting in Europe ended on May 8, 1945, after the Western Allies' invaded Germany and captured Berlin. In July 1945, the U.S. dropped two atomic bombs in Japan, sealing the Allies' victory and officially ending the war. It is estimated that between 40 and 50 million deaths incurred during World War II, making it the deadliest war in world history.


Approximately 56.2 million acres of land within the United States are designated as Native American reservations, areas of land set aside for the perpetual use of indigenous groups, many of whom were forcefully relocated onto them. Sometimes reservations are sited on land traditionally used by the people before conquest and colonization. In other cases, Native American reservations are located away from their traditional lands as a result of 18th-, 19th-, and 20th century federally-supported practices that expropriated natural resources, throughfares, and lands under the premises that the land was "vacant," its resources were not being properly exploited, and because of racial biases that privileged European settlement patterns based on ownership rather than fluid and multiple landuse practices.


In Hillerman's Navajo detective fiction, "radioman" is an anachronistic reference to what are today known as dispatchers, individuals who work in a dispatch center to facilitate the transmission and tracking of information, often but not always during emergency responses to traffic accidents, natural disasters, and civil disturbances. Radiomen have a military origin that goes back to before World War I, when radio units consisted of "pack sets," which were so large that 10 men were needed to set-up and operate the equipment that was transported by 4 pack mules around the field of action. Over time, Radioman became a naval designation that was eventually merged with that of the Data Processing Technician, and eventually became the Information Systems Technician. Regardless of their title, the individuals who fill these positions are responsible for facilitating communication and, in the process, coordinating operations under the purview of their parent agency.

pressure flaking

A technique for shaping a stone edge by pressing, usually with a bone, from the blade edge in toward the "cheek," or the thicker part of the stone being sharpened. The pressure applied to the edge pops off small flakes of stone, narrowing and sharpening the cutting edge being created. The object being sharpened is then flipped over to work the same edge from the other side.

Pressure flaking is intended for refining, not beginning, a sharp edge in stone.

pot shard

More commonly referred to as "pot sherd," pot shard is a colloquial term for ceramic sherds, common artifacts found in archaeological sites. Currently, archaeologists in the U.S. use the term "sherd" to refer to a fragmented piece of a prehistoric or historic ceramic vessel, while the term "shard" refers to a fragmented piece of glass.


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