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Navajos grateful for Hillerman's focus on culture

Members of the Navajo Nation said award-winning author Tony Hillerman, who died on Sunday at the age of 83, opened the world's eyes to their culture.

Some were criticized for sharing too much information but many were excited to see their lives portrayed in the best-selling Navajo mystery series. "The people spilled their guts to him," James Peshlakai, who is characterized in one book, told the Associated Press. "The elders, they told him stories about things their own children never asked about."

Ervin Chavez, a county commissioner, said the books depicted an accurate view of the reservation. "He brought a lot of good publicity to the Navajo people and when you read the books, you can picture yourself being there," he told The Farmington Daily Times.

Hillerman published his first novel, The Blessing Way, in 1970, and went on to write a series of award-winning books featuring Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, two Navajo detectives. He was named Special Friend of the Dineh by the Navajo Nation Council.

Get the Story:
Navajos, Hillerman Shared Affection (AP 10/28)
Readers mourn death of Tony Hillerman (The Farmington Daily Times 10/28)
Author Hillerman became hero to Navajos (The Arizona Republic 10/28)
Tony Hillerman, 83; Penned Navajo Series (The Washington Post 10/28)
Tony Hillerman, Novelist, Dies at 83 (The New York Times 10/28)

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Tony Hillerman, award-winning author, dies at 83 (10/27)