Native American Eyes & Faithful Indian Companions

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Sheesh. The crude, racial stereotyping of the past is bad enough, but how far have we really come? Now, besides the good old-fashioned racism that somehow refuses to die, we have the good-intentioned but often inverted racism of adding of a dollop of native blood to a hero to suggest some sort of progressive cred, and the woker-than-thou torches-and-pitchforks crowd throwing hissy fits over the audacity of any writer who doesn’t pass some racial and/or cultural purity blood test before putting a Native American character on paper..

Which makes it all the more inspiring when a writer–any writer–cares enough to get it right. Sometimes they actually do.

Native American Eyes

Faithful Indian Companions

You can blame it all on Tonto, but the “faithful Indian companion” is a mainstay of American literature, for better or (often) worse, stretching back at least to Chingcachgook in James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales.

  • Chief Moses Tamiami by William Babula (Seminole)
    One of private detective Jeremiah St. John‘s two partners.
  • Jimmy Sisiwan by Betty Webb (Pima)
    Lena Jones’ partner.
  • Willie Prettybird by Richard Hoyt (Cowlitz)
    Also known as “Willie Sees the Night,” this Cowlitz shaman first appears in Fish Story (1985), the fourth in the John Denson private eye series, and later becomes his assistant.
  • Sara Morningsky by Lee Driver (a “Native American” shape-shifter)
    Assistant to private eye Chase Dagger
  • Zebulon Sixkill by Robert B. Parker (Cree)
    Parker introduced Zebulon in his Spenser final novel, Sixkill (2011), and the former college-football star becomes his “apprentice” in the subsequent novels by Ace Atkins.


Preliminary list respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.

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