Built Environment Reference

death hogan

In Navajo culture, when a person dies inside a hogan, the traditional Navajo house, it is believed that the person’s spirit, known as “chindi,” can remain trapped in the built structure and potentially cause ghost-sickness, an affliction that can manifest in physical or mental illness. Because the Navajo take great care to avoid any contact with dead bodies and the deceased person’s possessions, generally when people are nearing the moment of death they are brought outside of the hogan to die in the open, which will release the chindi into world to disperse. In the case that someone does die indoors, the dwelling must then be vacated and abandoned, and the family constructs a new hogan elsewhere. In order to enable the release of the lingering chindi in the old hogan, a hole is created in the northern wall of the hogan. This hole also functions as a mark indicating that the structure is contaminated by death and is never to be inhabited again.

Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, California

A world famous street that stretches from west Los Angeles to the Pacific Ocean in the Pacific Palisades. This boulevard began as a road that connected Los Angeles with Hollywood. The completion of the road was celebrated by a grand opening parade. In the 1920’s, Sunset Boulevard became a hang-out for both celebrities and notorious gangsters such as Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen. Along the boulevard are cafes, restaurants, clubs, hotels, and bars that have been a part of pop-culture since the 1950’s. Some of these famous places include: The Viper Room, Whiskey a Go Go, The Playboy Club, Café Trocadero, and the Sunset Tower Hotel.

Jacaranda Avenue, Burbank, California

A major thoroughfare in Burbank, California running between Camarillo Street and North Pass Avenue. The street is named for the stunning blue luminescence of the Jacaranda bloom.

Los Angeles County Road Maintenance Department, California

A public works department, the road maintenance department is responsible for the repair and upkeep of all county roads.

Union Mall, University of New Mexico

The Union Mall is a paved, pedestrian strip that leads from the main entrance of University of New Mexico in Albuquerque into the campus's grounds and main buildings. The mall runs along the Student Union Building and is a central location on campus where student organizations often set up information booths and where outdoor events and performances take place.

Hopi Motel, Arizona

The Hopi Motel, now referred to as an inn or hotel, is part of the Hopi Cultural Center, which is located on Second Mesa on the Hopi Reservation in Arizona. The cultural center also includes a restaurant, a visitor center, and a trading post for Hopi arts and crafts. It provides information about Hopi culture and about visits to the Hopi mesas, especially the well-known, ancient village of Walpi.

cliff dwelling

The Anasazi, or Ancestral Puebloan peoples, of the southwestern regions of the United States often built their houses on the sides of canyon cliffs using natural rock overhangs and large caves as the base for their structures. Many standing ruins of cliff dwellings that were built in the period around 1150-1300 CE can be found in the Four Corners area in present day Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. The early, nomadic Puebloan peoples started building these structures by enclosing existing cliff caves with stone building blocks and adobe mortar to create storage bins for gathered and hunted foods. Later on, a similar technique was used to build larger rooms that were used as living structures. The settlements were often built on high canyon walls as a way to protect the community from predators and hostile neighboring tribes. Steps were carved into rocks, and wooden ladders were used to climb up and down the canyon walls. Some of the most impressive cliff dwelling ruins are located in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, the Gila National Monument in New Mexico, and Walnut Canyon in Arizona.


In Puebloan tradition, a kiva is a sacred space to observe religious rituals. Kivas symbolize Puebloan emergence, or birth, into this world and their architecture evokes an enclosed space of sacred potential. The kiva is a round room that is dug underground with a domed roof that protrudes above ground. The structure's opening is a round hole in the rooftop, from which the kiva's dancers and medicine men emerge during public ceremonies, using a long wooden ladder. The ladder is an essential, functional part of the structure and also has a symbolic function as the line that connects the underground chamber with the outside world.

ceremonial hogan

Also called “Yeibichei hogan,” a ceremonial hogan is constructed specifically for Navajo ceremonials. During ceremonials, these hogans are the space where sandpaintings are drawn and generally are only used for the length of the ceremonial. Ceremonial hogans are often cone-shaped, with an east facing door, and are considered male, as opposed to the dome-shaped female hogan constructed for daily use.

Toadlena School, Toadlena, New Mexico

A small Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school, located about 60 miles north of Gallup in Newcomb, New Mexico.


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