“…action we associate with thriller writers like Michael Crichton…a flavor of story-telling, narration, and a touch of the archaic that one might find in a native story. Hunton’s work is animated and compelling.”

     Philip Baruth, award-winning commentator, University of Vermont professor, author of

The Dream of the White Village

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Gila Monster

‘chiadag’ in O’odham, is one of only two venomous lizards in the world, patterned in yellow or orange, and black beaded scales. Their jaws are powerful and their bite is tenacious. They hold onto victims tightly, injecting a continuous flow of venom. They are to be avoided when encountered. Their numbers are greatly reduced in recent years and they are protected by law in Arizona. The O’odham hold them in high esteem, believing the beautiful creatures to be a gift of the sun god, thus the colorful bands.

The ‘man-in-the-maze’ is the most cherished symbol of several southwestern tribes; the Hopi, Navajo, and Tohono O’odham people show great reverence for its meaning in life and death. There are varying interpretations of the design, all closely related to the creation story. Here are two from the O’odham:


The man is I’itoi, Elder Brother, and the first man to walk Mother Earth. He represents the human seed and the maze is the womb of Mother Earth. And so, he is seen emerging to walk the land. Near the summit of Baboquivari is a sacred cave where the O’odham believe I’itoi emerged. The cave actually exists as a sacred shrine. The interior is scattered with burnt offerings and other gifts brought to I’itoi. Author’s note: I have never visited the cave, since Baboquivari is a challenge to climb and the cave is difficult to access, but I know it’s there based on numerous climber accounts.


The symbol can represent a person’s journey through life. The figure of the man represents each person beginning their journey. The maze contains many twists and turns, or choices made in life. The center represents a person’s dreams and final goals. When the center is reached, a person’s goals have been achieved and the sun god blesses them and allows them to pass into the next world. Before a person passes, they step back into the small recess, away from the center, where they contemplate what they have accomplished before they cross the last threshold.


Gift of the Desert Dog


"So, little yellow and orange... little nippy one, have you been crawling on a rainbow?"

    Danny Rivas spied the beautifully beaded lizard sunning itself on a boulder. The creature curled defensively, flicking its tongue between warning hisses.

"Cut the squawking, I'm not going to hurt you," he said, carefully reaching toward its head with a stick. "Besides, you're the one with all the poison. Yeah, I know about you, you're a snapping turtle without its shell. Hey, are you listening?"

    The animal quietly focused on the end of the stick.


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Secrets of the Medicine Pouch


     Desert wind cut through a broken window pane in the back road adobe of Jonathan Luhya Gray Horse. It rustled the soiled curtains, sending a puff of tiny dust particles into the air. They drifted like timeless microbes through the shaft of sunlight streaming in.

     A sweet-smelling mesquite wood fire blazed in the corner beehive while all about the smoky room sounds of chanting mixed with a rhythmic drum beat. Groups of elders, gatherings of three and four, stood close by the antelope skin litter upon which the aged chief rested. They murmured in tongue, reciting age old verse along with special power words to ward off evil. And there lying before them was the ancient one, oldest among the people, and known by all as ‘Coyote-meeter.’ The call had gone out the previous afternoon that Jonathan had taken a turn for the worse, and now the death watch had begun.


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Coyote-meeter’s Abyss


     “Crappy fire...that the best you can do?” asked the man sitting on a rock directly across the pit.

     His oversized companion stared numbly into the glow of embers, poking and stirring with a stick.

     “I said crappy...”

     “Man, shut up,” the hulk suddenly blared, his voice echoing through the twilight of the mesquite grove. “You don’t like the way I built it, get off your butt and do it yourself.”

     Their angry exchange reverberated off the jagged walls of Baboquivari, the dark and mysterious mountain looming over them like an oncoming tidal wave.    

     “Hey, I would if I had any energy left. I used it all up

tracking ‘chu’uchum sihki,’ after you let it get away,” answered the first.


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Old Joseph