When Hill was a young comic in the 1970s, he refused to deign with racist stereotypes of Native Americans. Rather, his material dealt with bigotry toward Native Americans throughout history, targeting white viewers, the forced displacement of Indigenous peoples, and even the nefarious history of Christopher Columbus and the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims.
In 1977, 26-year-old Hill appeared on “The Richard Pryor Show,” the first time a Native American stand-up performed on a program broadcast across the United States. According to Google’s caption of the Doodle tribute, the show’s writers asked him to portray a racist caricature of a Native American, but Hill refused.
“For so long you [White viewers] I probably thought Indians never had a sense of humor,” he said in his set on Pryor’s show. “We never thought you were too funny either .”
Hill, who was of the Oneida Nation and also had Mohawk and Cree heritage, moved to the Oneida Nation from Wisconsin as a child and eventually made a name for himself at the famed Comedy Store in California, where he tied the knot. ties that have earned him several national titles. TV spots.
As his star grew, he still refused to appear in works that would reduce him to a stereotype. He drew inspiration from black comic Dick Gregory, whose material often targeted racism.
“That’s what I do from a Native American perspective to defuse that traditional John Wayne mentality,” Hill said in the book “We Had a Little Real Estate Problem,” a story by Hill and other comedians. Native Americans who challenged stereotypes.
Hill died in 2013 of lymphoma at age 62, but his legacy is immense, said Kliph Nesteroff, the author of “We Had a Little Real Estate Problem.”
“He was just important to all Native communities in North America as an incredible representative who never sold out, who never committed to stereotypes,” Nesterhoff said in an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio. Last year.
The Google Doodle of Hill was drawn by an Indigenous designer — Alanah Astehtsi Otsistohkwa (Morningstar) Jewell, a French First Nations artist from Thames, an Oneida nation in Canada.