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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Indiana Jones: The Lost Gold of Durango Indiana Jones
The Lost Gold of Durango
Written by Megan Stine and H. William Stine
Cover art by Peter Peebles

In Durango, Colorado with his father, Indy makes a friend of a young Native American and together they search for a missing cache of gold in the Anasazi ruins of Mesa Verde.


Read the "Late August 1912" entry of the It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage Indiana Jones chronology for a summary of this book


Notes from the Indiana Jones chronology


This book takes place in mid-August 1912. 


Didja Know?


The Young Indiana Jones original novels (not to be confused with the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles novelizations) are a series of juvenile novels written from 1990-1995. Though numbered 1-15, they do not take place in chronological order and cover the years 1912-1914. Young Indiana Jones and the Lost Gold of Durango is book #10 in the series.


Though Miss Helen Seymour was back in Indy's life as a governess in The Phantom of the Klondike, taking place in early August 1912, she is not seen or mentioned at all here. She must have immediately gone back to England after her Klondike adventure. Maybe the sickness from a mass of mosquito bites she suffered during that adventure convinced her it was finally time to put behind her her days of trying to keep Indy out of trouble.


Notes from The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones


The Lost Journal of Indiana Jones is a 2008 publication that purports to be Indy's journal as seen throughout The Young Indiana Chronicles and the big screen Indiana Jones movies. The publication is also annotated with notes from a functionary of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation, the successor agency of the Soviet Union's KGB. The FSB relieved Indy of his journal in 1957 during the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The notations imply the journal was released to other governments by the FSB in the early 21st Century. However, some bookend segments of The Young Indiana Chronicles depict Old Indy still in possession of the journal in 1992. The discrepancy has never been resolved. 


The journal as published skips over this time in Indy's life. In fact, it goes from August 5, 1912 to March 9, 1916...a period of about 3.5 years! Are we to believe that Indy made no journal entries that entire time? Perhaps the entries were excised by the Russians for some reason when it was in their possession?




Characters appearing or mentioned in this story


Horatio Lintell

Indiana Jones

Jesse Walter Fewkes

President William Howard Taft (mentioned only)

Henry Jones, Sr.

Sheriff Wheeler

Floyd Butler

J. D. Butler

old man

Jay (aka Lonely Wolf, aka White Sky)

Jay's father (mentioned only, deceased)

Jay's mother (mentioned only)

Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth (aka Fly Like a Boulder)

Howard (Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth's belt)

Terrible Cloud (Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth's rifle)

Garth (mentioned only)

Billy the Kid (another claimed identity of Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth)

Miss Grimble

Woodrow Wilson (mentioned only)


Didja Notice?


The novel opens in Durango, Colorado.


Page 9 mentions that Indy has green eyes. This is true, as main Indiana Jones actor Harrison Ford has green eyes.


On page 12, Indy runs down the streets of Durango, dodging cowboys on horseback and Model T Fords.


The details of the town of Durango on page 12 are correct, including the Strater Hotel where Indy and his father are staying (below).

Strater Hotel


Henry, Sr.'s friend Jesse Walter Fewkes was an actual historical figure. Fewkes (1850-1930) was an archaeologist and anthropologist who helped establish Mesa Verde as a National Park, just as Henry says here, in 1906.


The description in the book of the Anasazi people who lived at Mesa Verde (and other sites across the American southwest) in ancient times is generally accurate. Jay tells Indy that modern-day civilization doesn't know what these people called themselves; they are often called Anasazi in modern times from a Navajo word meaning "ancient enemy". "Puebloans" is becoming the more accepted term for this ancient civilization, as the meaning of "Anasazi" is not particularly complementary.


Jay tells Indy he is from Taos. This probably refers to the small town of Taos, New Mexico


On page 36, Jay tells Indy that his father hid the gold behind a false wall in the Mesa Verde ruins. The wall is marked with what he says is an Anasazi decoration. As far as I can find, this is not a genuine Puebloan glyph.


On page 37, Jay tells Indy he thinks his father hid the gold at either the Cliff Palace or Spruce Tree House ruins at Mesa Verde. These are actual ruins at the location, as seen below.
Cliff Palace
Cliff Palace
(photo by John Fowler on Wikipedia, shared under the Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)
Spruce Tree House
Spruce Tree House
(photo by KimonBerlin on Wikipedia, shared under the Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)


On page 38, Indy remarks that he is able to smell out gold, and jewels, and old bones, going on to say, "I was born to find things that are unfindable." This is somewhat of a foreshadowing of his finding the lost Ark of the Covenant in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade (and other relics he will discover throughout his illustrious career).


Jay tells Indy he's so far counted 114 rooms in Spruce Tree House. The actual official total is 130 rooms and 8 kivas.


Indy notices that many of the doorways in Spruce Tree House are T-shaped. This is true. It is one of the many mysteries of the Puebloan culture in that it is not known why they used that shape for some doors.


On page 53, Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth names several Puebloan peoples: Tanoans, Hopi, Zuni, Tewa, Tiwa, and Towa. These are all real world Puebloan peoples.


    On page 59, Indy recalls that he started hating snakes "a couple of months ago", when he fell into a circus car full of snakes that crawled into his shirt, up his sleeves, and down his pants. This incident occurred in "The Cross of Coronado", which, depending on which timeline you accept, took place in June or only a couple weeks earlier in August.

    Page 83 features another reference to "The Cross of Coronado".


On page 61, Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth mentions "O Susanna", apparently thinking it was an Indian war song. "O Susanna" is an American folk song written by Stephen Foster in 1848.


On page 66, Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth has predicted that the Boston Braves will win the World Series that year. He was almost right, in that it was the Boston Red Sox who took the win that year against the New York Giants. The Boston Braves are nowadays the Atlanta Braves. The World Series is Major League Baseball's annual championship series of games in the United States and Canada.


On page 68, Jay says Cliff Palace has over 200 rooms and 23 kivas. While the number of kivas is correct, my research shows Cliff Palace having 150 rooms.


The information Jay provides Indy about the Ute nation of Native Americans is essentially correct.


Indy's translation of the Latin phrase "In hoc signo vinces" as "By this sign you will conquer," is correct.


On page 83, Jay asks Indy why he helping him find the hidden gold if he doesn't want it for himself. Indy responds, "For the fun of it. And maybe for the glory." In The Temple of Doom, the idea of Indy's concept of "fortune and glory" will return.


On page 84, Jay says he wants to give some of the gold to his mother and most to his pueblo and a little for himself so he can leave and go somewhere the Butler Brothers will never find. He considers buying a car and driving to San Francisco.


On page 126, Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth claims to be Billy the Kid. Billy the Kid (1859-1881) was an American outlaw and gunfighter who killed at least 8 men from the time he was 12 years old until his death at age 21. His real name was Henry McCarty, but he often went by the alias of William H. Bonney, which is where the "Billy" nickname came from.


On page 131, in the telegram from President Taft, he remarks that he is sure he can defeat Woodrow Wilson in the election. In fact, Wilson defeated Taft in the November 1912 presidential election.


On page 133, Jay says that Indy's father is probably worried about him after these last couple days, but Indy retorts, "He's probably sitting in the same chair, still talking to Mr. Fewkes about what he thinks will be written on King Arthur's sword, if he ever finds it." King Arthur, of course, is the legendary (possibly mythological) British leader of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. Excalibur is the name of the sword won and wielded by King Arthur in legend.


At the end of the story, Jay gives Indy a Tiwa name, "Stubborn West Wind", "A wind that never gives up until it wears down everything that stands in its way."


Since Jay gives Indy what he says is a Tiwa name, the implies that Jay is Tiwa himself.


The "Historical Note" section at the end of the book remarks that the current drive up to Mesa Verde National Park is the same route that Indy and Jay take in this story, along a sheer cliff called the Knife Edge.


Unanswered Questions


    Was Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth really a 750-year old Anasazi? He later claims to be Billy the Kid. And his belt buckle has "Howard" engraved on it.

    Billy the Kid was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico Territory, though some conspiracy theorists claim that Garrett staged the killing in order to let his former friend Billy escape; it is alleged by some that Billy spent much of the rest of his life hiding in the mountains of Colorado.

    The "Howard" belt buckle is unexplained, other than Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth claims that his belt is named Howard.

    Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth knows how to speak a Native American language (presumably Tiwa) with Jay. He also knows things about Jay's and Indy's pasts that he couldn't easily know, vaguely suggesting some magical powers on his part (though it's not impossible he could have found them out if he was in the habit of keeping abreast of local goings-on). If Coyote with an Eagle in His Mouth really was a 750-year old Anasazi, it would be another early brush with the supernatural for Indy.


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