NATIVE AMERICAN DETECTIVES - A Chronological Checklist compiled by Steve Lewis
This list of Native American detectives was motivated by the discovery of the private eye character who is presently at the top of the list, presented in chronological order. That detective is named Eagels, an Iroquois living in England in the early1930s, and he appears in only one book, The Disappearance of Archibald Forsyth (Hutchinson, 1933). My review of the novel appears here. In terms of being first, no other Native American who is known to have appeared in a sleuthing role in a work of crime fiction even comes close to challenging Eagels, who is known by only the one name.
Of course there is always the possibility that Eagels will be replaced by another, but given the fact that of the various people who have making lists similar to this one in recent years, few of them have included anyone who qualifies going back much further than the early 1970s.
There are always the dime novels of the late 19th century. One could find almost anyone working as a detective in some obscure edition, and almost no one would know about it.
To be truthful, this list contains more than detectives. There are lawyers, spies, occasional villains, hit men perhaps, and subsidiary characters in novels in which the primary detective is not Native American, which also includes Canada and Mexico as well as points further south. I also include protagonists in thriller novels in which the leading character is caught up in crime-related events of one sort or another and has to figure his or her way out. A fairly elastic definition, you might say, and I might say that you are correct.
In each case, only the detective’s first appearance is listed. Putting them in chronological order will give you a sense of history. Through the 1960s, there are at the present time only seven entries. In the 1970s, beginning (of course) with Tony Hillerman, more and more begin to appear. By the late 1990s and into the present century, there has been a veritable flood of Native American detectives, some of them well known, but most of them not. They all have a place here.
There are many, many gaps in these entries. Please fill in any information that you might have. Listings include: Author, Character, Tribe, First Appearance (book or story), and year. When an author has created more than one Native American detective, both are listed under the author’s name, regardless of the charcater’s first appearance. Tribal affiliations have proven the most difficult to determine. In particular, Marvin Lachman pointed to me, after seeing a preliminary version of this list, that in a few cases I mention that the character is a Pueblo Indian. “In New Mexico,” he points out, “there may as many as a dozen different pueblos. It is the equivalent of a tribe. Therefore, if you have the name of the pueblo, you should add it.”
Good advice, but while I will eventually follow through on it, I haven’t yet had the time to do so. Help me out if you can. After I posted a request there earlier this year, a large number of individuals on DorothyL gave me names of authors or detectives for possible entries. They also suggested various places elsewhere on the Internet where I should go to look.
Sadly, I have lost the list of names of everyone who gave me assistance. Besides Marv Lachman, however, I know both Andi Schecter and Enid Schantz sent me several emails. Others I can mention – and if your name is not here, and it should be, just let me know – are:
Jeannette Cezanne, Joan Miller, Victoria Kemp, Mary Jo Eyth [a long list!], Susan Robinette, Toni L. P. Kelner, Kim Malo, and Ken Seeman.
Sites I was pointed to include:
There are other places to look. Most of the large bookselling sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, et al.) allow you the possibility of searching by category. I stopped doing this when the same most recent entries kept coming up, but a more “exhaustive” approach may have gained one or two possibilities that I’ve missed. There are no entries from 2005, for example, and there is no reason to think there should not be.
At the moment, however, as of November 27, 2005, this is where I am. Thanks to everyone who assisted, whether your name is here or not. Someone else can take over Stage Two, which consists of annotating all of these entries, if they wish.
Eagels, Iroquois, The Disappearance of Archibald Forsyth, 1933.
“JOHN GRANGE,” pseudonym of ROBERT LESLIE BELLEM & W.T. BALLARD [and others?]
Jim Anthony [pulp hero]; half-Comanche, half-Irish; “Dealer in Death,” Super-Detective, October 1940.
MANLY WADE WELLMAN
David Return, Tsichah (a fictional tribe combining aspects of the Cheyenne and the Pawnee), “A Star for a Warrior,” EQMM short story, April 1946. [The story won the first of the annual EQMM contests begun that year.]
OLIVER LA FARGE
Spotted Shield, ‘Golquain’ Apache (also a fictional tribe), “Woman Hunt No Good,” EQMM short story, 1951. [The story won Third Prize in that year’s EQMM contest.]
John Running Tree, “full-blooded Indian,” The Savage, 1958. [The leading character is a hit man for the syndicate who unacountably goes soft.]
BILL S. BALLINGER
Joaquin Hawks, “American Indian,” The Chinese Mask, 1965. [More information on Hawks is needed.]
Johnny Canuck, quarter-Sioux, Time for Sleeping, 1965. Note: Most sources list the four Johnny Canuck books that came out in 1965 in alphabetical order. Using the numbering on the British paperback series published by Compact, the correct order should be: Time for Sleeping (F264), Blue Line Murder (F265), Time for Sleeping (F264), and The Eighth Veil (F283). Four more appeared in 1966.
Joe Leaphorn, Navaho, The Blessing Way, 1970.
Jim Chee, Navaho, People of Darkness, 1980.
RICHARD MARTIN STERN
Johnny Ortiz, part Apache, Murder in the Walls, 1971.
Sam Watchman, Navaho, Relentless, 1972.
M. K. WREN
Conan Flagg; half-Indian, half-Irish; Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat, 1973.
Joe Reddman, “American Indian,” The Player, 1974. [Joe Reddman is the father of David Reddman, a prosecutor who appears in one large role in one of Downing’s books, plus (perhaps) several minor ones.]
L. V. ROPER
Jerry “Renegade” Roe; half-Cherokee, half-Irish; The Red Horse Caper, 1975.
CHELSEA QUINN YARBRO
Charley Spotted Moon, Ojibwa, Olgilvie, Tallant & Moon, 1976.
MARTIN CRUZ SMITH
Youngman Duran, Hopi, Nightwing, 1977.
Sergeant Joe Pena, Pueblo Indian, Stallion Gate, 1986.
Willie Prettybird (a/k/a Willie Sees the Night), Cowlitz shaman, Fish Story, 1985. [The first appearance located for Prettybird so far is this book, the fourth in the John Denson private eye series.]
Deputy Billy Birdsong, Cherokee, Whitewater VI, 1987. [The primary detective is Sheriff Peter McPhee.]
Chief Moses Tamiami, Seminole, St. John’s Baptism, 1988. [Private eye Jeremiah St. John is the primary detective. Chief Moses is one of two other partners.]
Sam Featherock, Navaho, When Spirits Walk, 1988. [supernatural]
Ansel Phoenix, half-Blackfoot, The Mesozoic Murder, 2003.
JAMES W. KUNETKA
Thomas Reyes, Pueblo Indian, Shadow Man, 1988.
Matteesie Kitologitok, Intuit Eskimo, Murder in a Cold Climate, 1988.
Mitch Bushyhead, half-Cherokee, The Grandfather Medicine, 1989.
Molly Bearpaw, Cherokee, Ravenmocker, 1992.
Stace Red Hawk, Sioux, Mean Spirit, 1990.
AIMEE & DAVID THURLO
Ella Clah, Navaho, Second Shadow, 1990.
Lee Nez [part vampire] aka State Patrolman Leonard Hawk, Navaho, Second Sunrise, 2002.
MIRIAM GRACE MONFREDO
Jacques Sundown, half-Iroquois, Seneca Falls Inheritance, 1992. [The primary detective is Glynis Tryon.]
Professor Cole McCurtain, part Choctaw-Cherokee, The Sharpest Sight, 1992. [The primary detective is Mexican-American sheriff Mundo Morales.]
Jacob Nashoba, Choctaw, Nightland, 1996.
Kate Shugak, Aleut Eskimo, A Cold Day for Murder, 1992.
MARK A. BURLEY
Sheriff Sam Keeyani, ??, “Night of the Coyote,” MURDER, SHE WROTE, Nov 22, 1992. [Portrayed by actor Graham Greene, himself an Oneida Indian. Since this is a TV program, I’m opening this up far more than I intended to. This is the only TV character I’ve included, but you can write me about others, if you’d care to, and I’ll include them in a future issue along with any other corrections and additions.] NOTE: My original information came from imdb.com. Other sources suggest that the sheriff and Sam Keeyani were separate characters, the latter played by Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman. Imdb states that Westerman played Uncle Ashie Nakai. I’m somewhat inclined to believe Imdb.
Joe Barbarossa, Nez Percé, Montezuma’s Man, 1993. [The primary detective is NYPD Commissioner Isaac Sidel. Does Barbabossa appear in earlier books in the series?]
Ginevra Prettifield, part Sioux, The Sante Fe Rembrandt, 1993.
Tina Martinez, Pueblo Indian?, Clay Dancers, 1994. [Series sleuth Rueben Rubin is the primary detective.]
Connie Barnes (girl friend of blind sculptor Mo Bowdre), Hopi, The Stolen Gods, 1993.
Taggert Roper, Cherokee, The Next Victim, 1993.
Hosea Smoke, Cherokee, Smoke, 2000.
Roland Mean, “Native American”, A Good Day to Die, 1993.
J. F. TRAINOR
Angela Biwaban, Anishinabe, Target for Murder, 1993.
Gabriel Du Pre, Métis Indian (descendents of Native Americans and French fur traders), Coyote Wind, 1994.
ROBERT J. CONLEY
Sheriff Go-Ahead Rider, Cherokee, Go-Ahead Rider, 1994.
JAMES D. DOSS
Charley Moon, Ute, The Shaman Sings, 1994.
Daisy Perika (Charley’s shaman aunt), Ute, The Shaman Sings, 1994.
Jennifer Talldeer (Kestrel-Hunts Alone), Osage-Cherokee shaman, Sacred Ground, 1994.
Vicky Holden (with Father John O'Malley), Arapaho, The Eagle Catcher, 1995.
MICAH S. HACKLER
Gabe Hanna (deputy to Sheriff Cliff Lansing), part Navaho, Legend of the Dead(?) 1995. [Known to be in Coyote Returns, 1996, the second in the Lansing series.]
ADRIAN C. LOUIS
Rudy Yellow Shirt, Oglala, Skins, 1995.
Jane Whitefield, Seneca, Vanishing Act, 1995.
Jordan Tidewater, Quinault tribal sheriff (female), The Tree People, 1995. [supernatural]
Vicki Bauer, “part American Indian (Canadian)”, After-Image, 1996.
Renee LaRoche, Ojibwa, Along the Journey River, 1996.
MARDI OAKLEY MEDAWAR
Tay-bodal, Oklahoma Kiowa, Death at Rainy Mountain, 1996.
Karen Charboneau, Chippewa, Murder on the Red Cliff Rez, 2002.
MARK T. SULLIVAN
Diane Jackman, Micmac puoin, The Purification Ceremony, 1997. [suspense thriller]
ROBERT W. WALKER
Lucas Stonecoat, “Native American”, Cutting Edge, 1997.
WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER
Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor, part-Ojibwe, Iron Lake, 1998.
CHRISTOPHER A. LANE
Ray Attla, Inupiat Eskimo, Elements of a Kill, 1998.
Howie Moon Deer, Lakota, Ghost Dancer, 1998.
O’NEIL DE NOUX
John Raven Beau, part Lakota, “Murder Most Sweet,” EQMM, June 1999.
KATHLEEN O'NEAL GEAR & W. MICHAEL GEAR
War Chief Browser, 13th century Chaco Anasazi, The Visitant, 1999.
Paul Two Persons, Chippewa, Don’t Think Twice, 1999.
Massaqouit, a Pequot sachem, The Dumb Shall Sing, 1999. [The primary detective is 1640s New England midwife Catherine Williams.] NOTE: I am not the Stephen Lewis who wrote this book.
Tempe Crabtree, of Yanduchi heritage, Deadly Omen, 1999.
Emmet Quanah Parker, Comanche, Cry Dance, 1999.
Anna Turnipseed, Modoc, Cry Dance, 1999.
Ben Pecos, Pueblo Indian, The Pumpkinseed Massacre, 1999.
Tommy Spottedhorse, Hawikuh, Yellow Eyes, 2000. [This is the second Ben Pecos book. Did Spottedhorse also appear in The Pumpkinseed Massacre?]
S. D. TOOLEY
Sam(antha) Casey, half-Sioux, When the Dead Speak, 1999.
S. D. TOOLEY as LEE DRIVER
Sara Morningsky, “Native American” shape-shifter, The Good Die Twice, 1999. [Sara is an assistant to private eye Chase Dagger.]
Laura Winslow, half-Hopi, Butterfly Lost, 2000.
J. M. HAYES
Mad Dog, quarter Cherokee, Mad Dog and Englishman, 2000. [The primary detective is Mad Dog’s brother, Sheriff English.]
Sharon McCone, full-blooded Shoshone, as she discovers in Listen to the Silence, 2000.
Mary Crow, half-Cherokee, In the Forest of Harm, 2001.
Jimmy Sisiwan, Pima Indian, Desert Noir, 2001. [Jimmy is the partner of private eye Lena Jones.]
Lt. Oldman, Arapaho, Click, 2001. [The primary detective is crime scene photographer Mick McClary.]
MARY ANNA EVANS
Faye Longchamp, “a smidgen of Native American blood” and her sleuthing partner Joe Wolf Mantooth, “primarily of Creek (or Muskogee) descent,” Artifacts, 2003. NOTE: The quotes were taken from a statement by the author on DorothyL.
HARTLEY GoodWEATHER [THOMAS KING]
Thumps DreadfulWater, Cherokee, DreadfulWater Shows Up, 2003.
SARA SUE HOKLOTUBBE
Sadie Walela, half-Cherokee, Deception on All Accounts, 2003.
Joseph Mad Crow, “Native American,” Clea’s Moon, 2003. [The primary detective is John Ray Horn, who now works for his former sidekick in the movies.]
Yaotl, Aztec slave in Mexico, 1517; Demon of the Air, 2004. [Winner of the UK Debut Dagger Award. Published in the US, Sept 2005.]
LORNA SCHULTZ NICHOLSON
Intuko, Inuit minister, See Fox Run, 2004.
Not confirmed or borderline possibilities:
Humphrey Campbell, part Paiute??, There There Were Three, 1938.
Tecumseh Fox; despite the name, denies being part-Native American; Double for Death; 1939.
Inspector Miguel Menendes, Mexican-Aztec?, The Green Stone, 1961.
Gabriel Wager, mixed Anglo and Chicano roots, The Alvarez Journal, 1975.
Christine Saksis, half-Indian?, Murder at the FBI, 1985.
WILLIAM F. NOLAN
Nick Challis (half-brother of PI Bart Challis), half-Indian?, Helle on Wheels, 1992.
ARTHUR WILLIAMS [JOHN MILES aka JACK BICKHAM]
Johnelle “Johnny” Baker, Choctaw?, Missing at Tenoclock, 1994.
Closely associated detectives:
Mike Raglan, The Haunted Mesa, 1987. [Raglan is called in mystical fashion to investigate the unexplained sudden disappearance of the Anzazi, an enigmatic race of southwestern cliff dwellers in the 13th century.]
Joshua Rabb, The Dividing Line, 1993. [Rabb is a Jewish lawyer from Brooklyn who moves with his two children to Tucson in 1946 to accept a position with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.]
Viv Powers, Tulsa Time, 2000. [Powers is a reporter for the Tahlequah Daily Tribune in Cherokee County, Oklahoma, and her three cases on record deal with matters involving the Cherokee nation.]
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