Personal Response Essay to Chapter One of "Talking God" by Tony Hillerman

Essay by redheadkHigh School, 11th gradeA, May 2004

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Talking God, by Tony Hillerman, is a novel that is about a conflict between a woman named Catherine Morris Perry and a Native American named Henry Highhawk. Ms. Perry is employed at the Washington Museum of National History as the "Temporary Assistant Counsel, Public Affairs." (Hillerman 2) In chapter one of this piece, Mr. Highhawk is upset because the museum in which Ms. Perry works contains thousands of Native American bones of his ancestors that were dug up from their proper burial ground. When he demands to have them returned to their correct home, Ms. Perry states that the museums policy is "if an Indian tribe wanted ancestral bones returned, it had only to ask for them and provide some acceptable proof that the bones in question had indeed been taken from the burial ground of the tribe." (Hillerman 3-4) Of course, this is infuriating to Mr. Highhawk, seeing as the museum purposely does this because they know that it is practically impossible to prove this.

To open Ms. Perry's eyes, Henry Highhawk decides to flip the situation around. When Catherine receives a package one day, she finds that there is a letter attached from Henry Highhawk, stating, "I ask that you accept these two skeletons for authentic display to your clients and release the bones of two of my ancestors so that they may be returned to their rightful place in Mother Earth." (Hillerman 5) When she opens the box, she finds the remains of her dead grandparents.

I believe that the author of this novel, Tony Hillerman, was aiming to express this situation through the Native Americans' point-of-view. The major way that he displays this point-of-view is through Henry Highhawk sending the package of Ms. Perry's grandparents' bones to her. When I read this, it...