When I read this weekend that Tony Hillerman passed away, it made me curious to know about the perception of him in the indigenous community.
Said has me continually second guessing myself, making me wonder: 'Am I essentializing someone if I look for a representative of a community to speak on its behalf?'
Throwing caution to the wind, I looked to one of my favorite writers (to read & teach) Sherman Alexie.
When googling "Alexie thinks of Hillerman," I came across an older interview in the guardian.co.uk, in which Alexie comments on the work of Hillerman:
"Tony Hillerman's work [mystery novels set around reservations] should be classified as what it is - colonial literature... I think there's an arrogance amongst white Americans about their relationship to the oppressed people that prevents them from seeing themselves as coming from a position of privilege."
When asked what non-Indian artists who use Indian stories for their art should do to take themselves out of the position of the colonialist, Alexie recommends donating 10% to the tribe, or Indian artist funds (Alexie sits on a board & said he's never heard Hillerman's name mentioned as donating.)
To end on a fun note, here's Alexie's recent appearance on the Colbert Report. ¡Disfruta! (He's pushing his newest book)