November 2 2009 by Sam Lowe
Millions of readers across the globe have involved themselves with the thrilling stories created by the late Tony Hillerman. In his many novels, Hillerman combined Native American culture with murder mysteries, taking his readers across Navajo, Hopi and Zuni lands through the eyes of Joe Leaphorn and Jimmy Chee, his lawman heroes.
Now his fans can personally experience some of the intriguing settings of the novels on a five-day Hillerman Country Tour that departs from Phoenix, Arizona, and travels to some of the destinations the author described in his books. One of the first stops is at the Grand Canyon where participants will meet with James Peshlakai, a Navajo elder and silversmith whose name appears in Hillerman's "The Wailing Wind."
Also in Arizona, the tour stops at the Hopi village of Walpi, situated on the top of a towering mesa that rises hundreds of feet above the semi-desert below. Tour guides explain that it was here where Jimmy Chee arrested a criminal but, due to a lapse in judgment, let him escape. The 10-passenger van then winds through the Chuska Mountains on the Arizona-New Mexico border, then passes the legendary Shiprock Pinnacle, believed by many Navajos to be their place of origin.
In New Mexico, the tour moves on to Chaco Culture Natural Historic Park, a mystical place commonly known as Chaco Canyon. It is a must for Hillerman followers because it was prominent in three of his novels, "A Thief of Time," "Coyote Waits," and "Sacred Clowns." The site was a place of commerce, a religious center and a gathering place for early settlers now called Puebloans. It features a wide range of ruins, reminders of a time long ago when the space in the canyon was filled with six-story structures and giant kivas.
Later, the van stops at at mission at Zuni Pueblo, the setting for Hillerman's thrilling "Dance Hall of the Dead." The 1629 Catholic church is adorned with larger-than-life images of Zuni religious figures that represent the seasonal lifestyles and overall history of the Zuni people.
The tours, sanctioned by Hillerman before his death, are organized and hosted by Detours of Arizona, a Scottsdale-based company. The complete itinerary for the Hillerman Country Tour may be viewed at www.detoursaz.com. For more information, log on to email@example.com or call 1-866-438-6877.