Monday, October 27, 2008
Goodbye, Mr. Hillerman.
One of my favorite authors, Tony Hillerman, has passed on. He was 83 and residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he died yesterday of pulmonary failure. I began reading his works in the early 90s, and Dad and I took along his books on tape as we traveled together throughout the Southwest, riding down the dusty roads of the Navajo Nation, which is where most of his stories were set. He penned his tales in order to instill a respect in his readers for Native American culture. "It’s always troubled me that the American people are so ignorant of these rich Indian cultures," Mr. Hillerman once told Publishers Weekly. "I think it’s important to show that aspects of ancient Indian ways are still very much alive and are highly germane even to our ways."
"I want Americans to stop thinking of Navajos as primitive persons, to understand that they are sophisticated and complicated," he once said. Occasionally, he was accused of exploiting his knowledge of Navajo culture for personal gain, but in 1987, the Navajo Tribal Council honored him with its Special Friend of the Dineh award. He took tremendous pride in that.
Rest in peace, Mr. Hillerman. We will miss you.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. May your rivers flow without end, meandering through pastoral valleys tinkling with bells, past temples and castles and poets' towers into a dark primeval forest where tigers belch and monkeys howl, through miasmal and mysterious swamps and down into a desert of red rock, blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and grottos of endless stone, and down again into a deep vast ancient unknown chasm where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled cliffs, where deer walk across the white sand beaches, where storms come and go as lightning clangs upon the high crags, where something strange and more beautiful and more full of wonder than your deepest dreams waits for you --- beyond that next turning of the canyon walls. ~Edward Abbey~