Censorship and Indians

Once again an American Indian writer’s work is among the top ten most “challenged” (i.e. banned) books in the United States. Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is ranked as number 2. According to the news report:

Published in 2007, the book remained relatively under the censorship radar until 2010, debuting at the number two spot of most challenged books. The book is challenged for ” offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, violence , and being unsuited to age group (grades 7 through 10).

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/top-10-c…

In his collection of short stories entitled The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven, Sherman Alexie mentions censorship in the Third Grade:

My traditional Native American art career began and ended with my very first portrait: Stick Indian Taking a Piss in My Backyard.

As I circulated the original print around the classroom, Mrs. Schluter intercepted and confiscated my art.

Censorship, I might cry now. Freedom of expression, I would write in editorials to the tribal newspaper.

In third grade, however, I stood alone in the corner, faced the wall, and waited for the punishment to end.

I’m still waiting.


And while we are waiting, the stereotypes of American Indians continue to be promoted by non-Indians while the Indians themselves must stand in the corner, invisible to those who are offended by their presence.

Prior to the European invasion, there were no tabooed words or themes among Native Americans. Children grew up in a world in which they were spoken to as human beings and were exposed to all of the things human beings were exposed to, including sex, defecation, urination, homosexuality, and all of the things that today’s censors wish to conceal.

In the 1930’s, Salish novelist Mourning Dove attempted to write down some of the traditional Colville stories. By the time her editor finished sanitizing them for the censors, they were no longer recognizable as Indian stories. In general, censorship of traditional Indian stories, often done to “protect” children, simply constructs and reinforces a racist barrier against any real understanding of these cultures and perpetuates the stereotypes about Indians that abound in sports mascots, political rhetoric (from both the right and the left), novels, popular media, and so on.

Early twentieth century ethnographers who recorded Indian stories and who wanted to record them accurately got around the censors by simply using Latin instead of English. Thus George Dorsey and Alfred Kroeber, in their 1903 report on Traditions of the Arapaho, write:

Stipiti similis est; seed hic stipes timam habere videtur, et anumum quoque video.

While they recorded the story, the use of Latin made it invisible to the general public. Thus any understanding of the Arapaho and other Indians was to be kept in the hallowed halls of academia so that it would not corrupt the general public.

Concern for censorship and its promotion of negative and false images of Indians is not new.  In 1909, a delegation of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal leaders traveled from their reservation in Oklahoma to Washington, D.C. to meet with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs and with President William H. Taft. They discussed some land concerns, and then introduced a second issue that is important to them: movies. They felt that movie producers were making movies which showed American Indians as uncivilized savages. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs sympathized with their concerns. Two members of the delegation, Big Buck and Big Bear, went with a reporter to a movie about Indians. Big Buck noted that

“If the white people would only take the pains to study Indian characteristics…he could possibly produce something worthy of presentation to the public.”

One movie producer responded:

“All the shows in which Indians are portrayed are good clean productions passed on by the National Board of Censorship.”

One aspect of censorship can be seen in the relegation of Indians to the mythical past. For example, in 1921, the Museum of New Mexico developed a policy that denied museum access to displaying Indian artists working in oils or in what the museum director believed was a non-traditional style. In other fields, Indian writers are expected to write about the mythical past and are often criticized for writing about things like modern Indian lawyers or detectives. Indians must be Indians, not modern people.

A more recent example of censorship was seen in 1982. A play called Night of the First Americans was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. as a benefit performance to provide scholarships for Indian college students. However, the script segments on treaty violations in the Black Hills and the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee had to be eliminated because the Reagan administration objected to them.

In 1998, schools in Fairbanks, Alaska pulled the book American Indian Myths and Legends by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz from school libraries. The school administration felt that the stories in the book – origin stories which include sexual themes and rapes – were not appropriate for children.

In 2011, the Richland, Washington school district banned The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Spokan writer Sherman Alexie. While none of the members of the committee making this decision had actually read the book, they felt it had sex and profanity in it.

Thus more than a decade into the twenty-first century, Indians remain invisible to most Americans. The stereotypes, shadow images of an imagined past with no basis in reality, continue to persist. Invisibility and stereotypes are created and enhanced by censorship.

American Indian Biography: John Rollin Ridge, Cherokee Writer

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When John Rollin Ridge died in 1867 he was eulogized as one of California’s great poets and political commentator. To understand his life and what motivated him, we must start by looking at his parents: John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup.

In the early 1800s, the Cherokee were borrowing many European ideas. Feeling that reading and writing were important, the Cherokee invited Christian missionaries to live among them and to operate schools. The Brainard School opened in 1817 with 26 Cherokee students. Soon it was suggested that some Cherokee might enroll in the new school operated by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions at Cornwall, Connecticut. Soon a number of Cherokee students were enrolled at the school.

The curriculum at the Cornwall school included a heavy dose of religious training, working on the school’s farm (classified as “agricultural education”) and courses in geography, history, rhetoric, surveying, Latin, and natural science.

One of the Cherokee students at the school was John Ridge. However, he had problems with his hip which were aggravated by the cold winters.  By 1821, his condition had worsened and so he was removed from the dormitory and placed in a private room in the Northrup home. It was there that he met and fell in love with the fourteen year-old Sarah Bird Northrup. Sarah’s family responded by sending her away to live with her grandparents. John wrote to his mother and asked for her permission for him to marry Sarah. John’s mother, insisting that he should marry a Cherokee woman, did not give her consent to the marriage.

In spite of the opposition from both families, John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup were finally married on January 27, 1824 in Connecticut. In order to avoid being mobbed, the couple immediately left Connecticut for Cherokee country in Georgia. The Cherokee were used to having non-Cherokee men marry Cherokee women and were dismayed to find that the Christian citizens of Cornwall, Connecticut were strongly opposed to having Cherokee men marrying non-Cherokee women.

John Rollin Ridge was born to John Ridge and Sarah Bird Northrup Ridge at Running Waters in the Cherokee Nation on March 19, 1827. John Ridge at this time was practicing law and had a half-interest it the ferry at New Echota. The family farm consisted of 419 acres and was run with the help of 18 slaves.

By 1835 the pressure from the State of Georgia and from the United States to have the Cherokee move west of the Mississippi had intensified. Census records at the time show that there was little difference between the Cherokee and non-Cherokee in terms of material culture. They lived in the same kind of homes, they raised the same crops. However, the Americans, fueled by racism and greed, wanted Cherokee land. The Cherokee at this time were divided into two factions: the Ridge party and the Ross Party. The Ridge Party led by John Ridge, Major Ridge (John’s father and John Rollin’s grandfather), and Elias Boudinot (also known as Buck Watie) saw that removal was inevitable, while the Ross Party, under the leadership of John Ross, opposed removal.

On December 29, 1835, twenty members of the Ridge Party signed an agreement with the United States in which the Cherokee would exchange their lands in the east for nearly 14 million acres of land in the west. In addition, they would receive $4.5 million and an annuity to support a school. John Ridge, Major Ridge, and Elias Boudinot were among those who signed the treaty. Upon signing, Major Ridge remarked: “I have signed my death warrant” in acknowledgement that the Cherokee nation had a law mandating death to those who sold Cherokee land.

In 1836, the Ridges and other members of the Ridge party left their traditional Cherokee homeland for Indian Territory. They settled near present-day Southwest City, Missouri and their 18 black slaves set out to clear the land and plant the crops.

The Ross Party and other Cherokee would later be forced to move to Indian Territory at bayonet point in a journey called the Trail of Tears.

In 1839, three execution squads set out to enforce Cherokee law. One of these squads forced their way into the home of John Ridge, and dragged him from his bed to the yard. While John Rollin Ridge and other members of the family watched, some of the  men held John Ridge’s arms and legs while others stabbed him 29 times. They then threw him into the air and let his bleeding body crash to the ground. The execution squad then marched over his body, stamping on him as they passed. John Rollin Ridge would later write:

“My mother ran to him. He raised himself on his elbow and tried to speak, but the blood flowed into his mouth and prevented him. In a few moments he died, without speaking the last words which he wished to say.”

The execution squads also killed Major Ridge and Elias Boudinot that day. They thus eliminated the leaders of the Ridge Party.

Following the executions, the Ridge family fled to Fayetteville, Arkansas. John Ridge died without a will, leaving behind a fairly large estate consisting of slaves, stock, and other personal property. Due to the chaotic state of the Cherokee nation, the estate was not immediately settled and thus the Ridge family found themselves often short of funds.

John Rollin Ridge received much of his formal education in Arkansas. In 1843, he enrolled in the Great Barrington Academy in Massachusetts. While enrolled in the Academy, he heard that his uncle Stand Watie had killed James Foreman, the assassin of Major Ridge. He wrote to his uncle:

“You cannot imagine what feelings of pleasure it gave me when I heard of the death of him who was the murderer of my venerable and beloved grandfather.”

In the same letter he also expresses extreme dislike – some would say hatred – for John Ross.

By 1847, John Rollin Ridge had moved back to Cherokee country, had married Elizabeth Wilson (a non-Cherokee), and had purchased a farm. The estate of John Ridge was settled and John Rollin received two slaves and other items. At this time, he began writing poetry under the name of Yellowbird as well as articles on Cherokee history and politics.

In 1849 John Rollin Ridge had an argument with his neighbor over a missing stallion. During the argument, John Rollin killed David Kell, a pro-Ross man. Fearing that he could not receive a fair trial in the Cherokee Nation because of John Ross and his followers, John Rollin Ridge fled to Missouri. Later it was determined that Kell had been encouraged by Ross supporters to provoke a fight with John Rollin in order to have an excuse to kill him.

In 1850, John Rollin Ridge, his brother Aeneas, and a slave named Wacooli joined a large party which was headed for the California gold fields. His intention was to engage in mining and amass a fortune. However, the journey to California proved to be more expensive and more difficult than he had thought. Along the way, he had to abandon a wagon, equipment, and clothing. Eventually he arrived in Placerville to find that thousands of people were already digging for gold. He soon learned that gold mining was hard physical work and that very few gold miners ever struck it rich.

John Rollin Ridge arrived in Sacramento looking for a job-any job that was honest. It was here that he met the local agent for the New Orleans newspaper True Delta and wrote a sample article. The agent quickly realized that it was a well-written article and John Rollin Ridge became a correspondent for True Delta. Thus he began his newspaper career in California.

The writings and poetry of John Rollin Ridge were soon appearing in a number of California publications including Alta California, Golden Era, Hesperian, Marysville Herald, Daily Union, and Hutching’s California Magazine.

In 1854, his book The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit was published. The book was widely read and frequently plagiarized. While John Rollin Ridge claimed that the story was true and was important to the early history of the state, there are some literary critics today who classify the work as a novel.

While working in the newspaper field, his dream was to establish a newspaper that would be devoted to Indian affairs, to defend Indian rights, and to provide Indians with powerful friends. He wrote:

“I want to write the history of the Cherokee nation as it should be written and not as white men will write it and as they will tell the tale, to screen and justify themselves.”

This is a dream which he would never realize.

In 1855, John Rollin Ridge became the main writer for the California American, an organ for the Know Nothing Party. One of the Party’s main tenets was that foreigners were unfit for citizenship and that Catholics should be denied citizenship as they were loyal to a foreign power.

In 1857 the Daily Bee began publishing in Sacramento with John Rollin Ridge as its editor. As editor of the Bee Ridge defended female journalists and writers. He wrote:

“The lady-writers of America are among the very best of our contributors to the literature of today.”


As editor of the Daily Bee John Rollin Ridge published many anti-Mormon articles. He opposed the creation of a Mormon state in Utah. He argued against mixing religion and politics. He wrote:

“A minister of the gospel, therefore, in the United States, who would speak of politics in the pulpit, and seek to array religion and politics together, is nothing better than a vile incendiary, torch in hand, in the very temple of our liberties, and deserves to be looked upon as a common enemy, taken down from the position which he disgraces, and branded with universal contempt.”

While at the Daily Bee, John Rollin Ridge began writing about Indians. While Ridge agreed with the popular opinion that the “digger” Indians were inferior, he disagreed with the popular notion that genocide was the solution. Ridge felt that California’s Indians were inferior to the Indians of the East and to those of South America.

The term “digger” Indians was used at the time to refer to a number of different tribes. The term comes from their practice of digging for roots.

With regard to Indians in North America since the European invasion, Ridge wrote:

“The Indian’s rights have been best respected, since the first white settlement of this continent, in those places where he has held his ground by bow and gun, tomahawk and scalping knife; where he has shown himself a warrior, and ready to mingle his blood with the soil upon which he grew, rather than leave it; where he had met encroachment upon his rights, or what he deemed his rights, by the torch of midnight conflagration and the death-menacing war whoop and the death-dealing tomahawk; where he has made it unsafe to lie down at night or to get up in the morning or to journey forth by day-There has his title to land been recognized and there has he been negotiated with and there have mutual terms of peace been subscribed to and respected.”

In 1857, writing under the name Yellow Bird, John Rollin Ridge provided a sketch of Si Bolla, a leader of one of the “digger” Indian bands. The account expressed admiration for the man’s intelligence and speaking ability. Although Ridge considered the “diggers” to be inferior, he defended them against the Americans who persecuted and enslaved them.

John Rollin Ridge left the Daily Bee to become the editor of the Express in Marysville. He then became the editor of the short-lived Marysville News. He then joined the Daily National Democrat whose banner proudly proclaimed: “The Voice of the People is the Voice of God.”

In 1861, Ridge became the editor of the anti-Lincoln and antiabolitionist Evening Journal in San Francisco. While he felt that Lincoln and the abolitionists would destroy the Union, Ridge declared his support for the Union and declared that the Evening Journal would be independent from any political party.

After a few months with the Evening Journal, Ridge moved to another San Francisco paper, the National Herald. His main assignment at the National Herald was to write on political affairs.

While in San Francisco, John Rollin Ridge wrote three long works on the American Indian for the Hesperian. In the first article, he speculated on the origin of the Indians, noting characteristics that are similar to those of the Greeks, Persians, Jews, and Chaldeans. The second article centered on the religious beliefs of the Indians and their mythology. The third article focused on Indian priests, prophets, and medicine men. In his discussion of the Medawin (the priests), he writes:

“The secret grips and signs [of the Medawin] have been recognized as identical with some of the grips and signs of Free Masonry.”

In 1862, Ridge left San Francisco to take a temporary position with the Beacon in Red Bluff. While at Red Bluff, Ridge wrote a number of articles about the Cherokee in which he criticized Cherokee chief John Ross.

After a few months in Red Bluff, he traveled to Weaverville where he helps establish the Trinity National. Following the demise of the paper after only a few issues, he wrote for a number of other papers.

John Rollin Ridge died on October 5, 1867 and was buried in Grass Valley, California. The cause of death was diagnosed as “brain fever” or encephalitis lethargia. The Alta California wrote:

“as a poet, he deserves a prominent position, and as a general writer he was forcible, elegant and polished, his chief forte being that of politics.”

In 1933, the Native Sons of the Golden West erected a marker on his grave which reads in part:

“John Rollin Ridge-California poet, Author of ‘Mount Shasta’ and Other Poems.”


American Indian Biography: James Welch

( – promoted by navajo)

In 1966, Richard Hugo was teaching a poetry class at the University of Montana. One of his students was James Welch who had been born on the Blackfeet Reservation and raised on the Fort Belknap Reservation. Hugo realized that Welch knew nothing of poetry, but he encouraged him to write about what he did know: life on the reservation. As a result, Welch began to write about the reservations and the people on the reservations. These writings resulted in Riding the Earthboy 40.

James Welch was a part of the renaissance of American Indian literature. When he began his writing, Indian authors were unknown. He later noted that D’Arcy McNickle’s The Surrounded was out of print at this time and that the other major Indian authors that are widely studied today were just beginning their careers.  

Welch’s first novel was Winter in the Blood. In this book, the nameless protagonist is the grandson of a woman who survived the Baker Massacre in which the army had attacked a peaceful Blackfoot camp. Reactions to the book are mixed: non-Indians find it depressing, while Indian readers feel that it is very funny and an accurate representation of reservation life in Montana. He continues his descriptions of contemporary reservation life in Montana with his second novel, The Death of Jim Lonely.

In Fools Crow, Welch’s third novel, he sets the story in the nineteenth century. In the Blackfoot world at this time, the animals communicate with the people and people changed their names as their personalities grow.

With his fourth novel, The Indian Lawyer, Welch returns to the present day, but necessarily to the reservation. The hero, Sylvester Yellow Calf, is a contemporary man who simply happens to be an Indian. In this work, Welch breaks into the mystery genre, an area dominated by non-Indian writers even when their main characters are Indian and the mysteries are set on reservations.

During the last part of the nineteenth century, a number of American entrepreneurs, such as Buffalo Bill Cody, organized Indian and Wild West shows which toured in Europe. Some of the Indian performers in these shows got “lost” and did not return home. In The Heartsong of Changing Elk, Changing Elk gets sick in Marseilles and winds up alone in Europe. He has no money, he does not speak any European language, and he has no hope of returning home. The Heartsong of Changing Elk is Welch’s final novel.

Like D’Arcy McNickle, James Welch also wrote non-fiction. Killing Custer is an Indian view of the Indian wars in a historical context.

James Welch died in 2003.  

American Indian Biography: D’Arcy McNickle

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For many people in the academic world, one of the major foundations of Native American literature was laid with the publication of The Surrounded in 1936. This novel, written by D’Arcy McNickle, was not the first novel written by an Indian nor was it particularly successful at the time. The book came out in the midst of the depression and found relatively little readership in spite of good reviews. In the 70 years that have passed since the book’s publication, however, it has become one of the most widely read and studied American Indian novels.  

D’Arcy McNickle grew up on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana. The reservation was created with the Treaty of Hellgate in 1855 in which the Flathead, the Pend d’Oreille, and the Kootenai gave up millions of acres of their land. From the viewpoint of the American government, the reservation was intended to confine not only the three tribes who signed the treaty, but other tribes as well, out of the way of the American settlers. The languages of the Flathead and the Pend d’Oreille are related and belong to the Salish language family and thus it is common to refer to these two tribes as the Salish. The Kootenai, on the other hand, speak a totally different language.

D’Arcy McNickle was neither Salish nor Kootenai. His mother was Canadian Cree: her parents, who considered themselves Métis, sought refuge on the Flathead Reservation following the 1885 Riel Rebellion in Saskatchewan.  D’Arcy was born on the reservation in 1904 and was enrolled on the Flathead Reservation in 1905. Most sources refer to his tribal affiliation as Flathead and today the library at the Salish-Kootenai College is named for him.

Like many other Indian children during the first part of the twentieth century, he went to a reservation grade school and then transferred to an Indian boarding school. Chemawa Indian School, like most Indian boarding schools of the day, was run like a military academy. The students wore military uniforms and marched in formations. He would later recall that students at Chemawa were punished for speaking to each other in an Indian language.  

Unlike many other Indian young people during the first part of the twentieth century, D’Arcy McNickle went to college. He attended what is now the University of Montana in Missoula where he majored in literature and history. While at the University, he joined the staff of the University’s literary journal The Frontier in which he published poetry and short stories.

While D’Arcy learned a great deal at the University, he did not do well in his courses and did not graduate. His mentor, Harold G. Marriam, the head of the English Department, encouraged him to expand his horizons and suggested the possibility of earning his bachelor’s degree at Oxford.

The Flathead Reservation underwent allotment in 1910 and reservation land was divided among tribal members. The land which was left over was then declared surplus and opened to non-Indian settlement. As a tribal member, D’Arcy McNickle received an allotment. D’Arcy then sold his allotment so that he could go to England to attend Oxford University in 1925-1926.

In England, D’Arcy found that Oxford would not accept all of his academic credit. He thought that he needed only one more year to obtain his degree, but he found that it would take at least two. Since he did not have enough money to stay in England for two years, he did not enroll at Oxford. Instead, he attended lectures, explored the libraries, and took advantage of many opportunities to study on his own. Then he moved to Paris where he mingled with the expatriates of the “lost generation.” Overall, his European experience was not a happy one and he seldom referred to Oxford in later years.

Upon his return to the United States, he settled in New York and tried to find work as a writer. During one period of several months he moved to Philadelphia where he worked as an automobile salesman. Here he found that automobiles and high-pressure sales were the antithesis of his own personal values. He would later describe high pressure salesmanship as “unintelligent, wasteful, ruthless, animal, intent on driving every vestige of individual preference in matters of taste, modes of living, and cultural pursuits out of existence.” After seven months he returned to New York more determined than ever to make his way in the publishing field. Here he did a variety of free-lance jobs, including writing, proofing, and book make-up.

While in New York, D’Arcy enrolled at Columbia University where he studied American history. However, with the pressures of trying to earn a living he never earned his degree.

While in New York, D’Arcy began work on his first novel. After completing it, he collected a pile of rejection slips from publishers who were not interested in bringing it out. In the meantime, he sold a story to Esquire who labeled him as their “discovery of the month.” However, the money from selling the story was not enough to live on.

In 1934, federal Indian policy in the United States changed dramatically. No longer was the emphasis on the forced assimilation of Indians into “mainstream” American life, but with the Indian Reorganization Act and the administration of Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier there was a respect for Indian culture. For the first time in American history, it was okay to be Indian.

In 1935, D’Arcy applied for work with the Federal Writers Project and was accepted. He moved to Washington, D.C. where the FWP assigned him to the Indian Office (Bureau of Indian Affairs or BIA). The following year, he went to work for the BIA.  

At this time, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was shaking itself free of the advice and guidance of Christian missionary groups which had dominated U.S. Indian policy and was turning toward social scientists, particularly anthropologists, for guidance. The change in the BIA orientation was not without controversy: Christian missionaries labeled the new orientation as atheistic, anti-Christian, and communistic. It was not long before D’Arcy McNickle was drawn into this controversy.

The BIA put out a small newsletter, Indians at Work, and with D’Arcy’s writing background it was natural that he write for this publication. One of his articles was a review of the novel The Enemy Gods, written by non-Indian Oliver LaFarge. LaFarge had won the Pulitzer Price for his early novel about Indians, Laughing Boy. Soon after the publication of D’Arcy’s review of this book, it began being quoted at length as evidence of the BIA’s anti-Christian and pro-communistic orientation.

In his review, D’Arcy writes:

“A dead Indian, they would say, is better off than La Farge’s Myron Begay, at the moment when, frenzied by the cheap rascality of Christian soul-saving, he stood up in a kind of missionary pep-meeting and denied his Gods.”

In response to this statement, the missionaries write:

“Christians! Where are you, that by your silence you deny your Christ and abandon your wards to the onslaught of the atheistic-communistic program … designed to aid in the overthrow of this Government and the Christian religion in America?”

In their publications and in their testimony before Congress, the missionaries claim that the BIA is now an evil influence on young Indians such as D’Arcy McNickle, and is turning them away from Christianity.

As a result of his working with the social scientists, D’Arcy wrote a number of non-fiction books about American Indians. The first of his non-fiction books was They Came Here First: The Epic of the American Indian which was published in 1949. This was the first historical survey of Indian-European relations written by a Native American. The book’s publisher promoted it heavily and within a few years it had gone through several printings.

He followed this with The Indian Tribes of the United States in 1962 and Native American Tribalism in 1973. Working with Harold Fey he wrote Indians and Other Americans which was published in 1959 and was expanded in 1970.

While working for the BIA, he helped organize a meeting in Chicago in 1944 which involved a number of prominent Indian leaders. Out of this meeting emerged the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which continues today as one of the major Indian organizations in the United States and which works to keep an Indian voice in Indian policy.

In 1951, he took the leadership in having the BIA sponsor a series of community development workshops for Indian leaders in Utah, Arizona, and Oklahoma. The workshops were intended to help tribal leaders discover the internal resources available to deal with tribal problems. While the workshops were a step in the right direction, they actually had little influence and failed to result in any local action.

While he was involved in helping to formulate and execute Indian policy he did not abandon his creative writing. His second novel, Runner in the Sun was published in 1954. Unlike The Surrounded, this novel is set in a time period before the European invasion. It did not sell well and was perceived as a children’s book. Most reviewers of adult fiction ignored it.

His third novel, Wind from the Enemy Sky, finished in 1976, reflects a great deal of his work with tribes such as the Mandan in the years following World War II.

D’Arcy McNickle resigned from the BIA in 1954. He moved his family to Boulder, Colorado and worked on a number of projects, including the Crown Point project in New Mexico to provide the Navajo with health care.

In 1965, the University of Saskatchewan asked McNickle to chair the new Department of Anthropology at their Regina campus. While he never graduated from college and did not have any formal academic degrees, he accepted the position.

His biography of Oliver La Farge, Indian Man: A Life of Oliver La Farge was published in 1971 and hit the book world with a massive thud. The reviews were less than favorable and it did not sell well.

D’Arcy McNickle died in 1977. He did not live to see his novel Wind from an Enemy Sky published or to see the republication of his first novel, The Surrounded. Both of these were released in 1978, a time in which American Indian literature was going through a renaissance. The Surrounded had now been out of print for forty years and was nearly unknown in the academic world. With its reprinting, many began to call it the most significant novel written by an American Indian prior to World War II.