Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Max Leon’s ranch. Ranch built up by Archilde’s father, a prosperous Spanish immigrant to Montana. Archilde develops a fondness for the ranch, even as he thinks of leaving it. He would like to be able to take with him its evening sounds and smells. Max’s house is as well furnished as any white man’s house, but Catherine, his Indian wife, lives apart from him in a nearby dirt-roofed cabin. Contrasts between these two houses reflect the divide between the white world and the Indian world. Although they are still married, Max and Catherine live differently and have different experiences. Max’s life revolves around cultivation of his land and the profit he derives from it. Catherine, meanwhile, is undergoing a gradual, inexorable return to the beliefs and rituals of her Salish people.
Mountains. The Sniél-emen Valley is enclosed by the Bitter Root Mountains to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east. These mountains have unspoiled natural areas that are still not tamed by the white man. Wanted by the law, Archilde’s brother Louis escapes to the mountains with his stolen horses. The mountains are deemed outside the law, but the law encroaches even there, thus reinforcing the novel’s theme that there is no escape.
Even the beauty of the mountains is described as a “magnificent barricade against the eastern sky.” Max, a proud, stubborn man, feels humbled by them. Catherine longs to go hunting in the mountains, regarding them as a great release from the strictures of her life with Max. Archilde has a dimmer view, regarding the mountains as empty of life, meaning game. He is wrong about this, and the shooting of a deer in the mountains leads directly to the tragic killing of Louis by a game warden, who is in turn killed by Louis’s mother, Catherine.
The freedom of the mountains is an illusion. Although Mike and Narcisse escape into the most remote reaches of the mountains at the novel’s end, there is little hope that they can maintain any sort of long-term residence there.
Buffalo Creek. Indian dancing ground located a mile below St. Xavier, in a grove of willows and cottonwoods. There, Mike is healed of his boarding school-induced fears by leading the blind chief Modeste to the ceremony. Catherine’s tepee, although a temporary shelter erected for the Indian dances, provides a sanctuary for Archilde after an encounter with his nemesis, Sheriff Quigley. In his mother’s tepee, he finds security. This security, however meaningful, is temporary.
Modeste’s ranch. Ranch of the blind Salish chief Modeste. In contrast to Max’s ranch, it is a typical Indian homestead, where Archilde finds Modeste living in a ramshackle house. There, he meets Elise, Modeste’s granddaughter, who brings joy and chaos into his life.
Badlands. Treeless, grassless, desolate area near the reservation to which Archilde goes to be alone and finds an aged mare and her colt. He tries to feed the mare and trim her mud-caked tail but ends up shooting her instead because she is incurably lame. The futility of good-hearted effort to help is underlined by the desolation of the badlands.
*Portland. Oregon city in which Archilde is attempting to make his living as a fiddle player before he returns to his father’s ranch. Archilde regards Portland and other cities as attractive places where he can escape the doomed life of his tribe. When he is in the mountains, he longs for the “gleaming lights” of a city, any city.