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John G. Neihardt

(1881—1973)


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(1881–1973),

born in Illinois, after a varied career including teaching and farming, lived among the Omaha Indians (1901–7), and from his study of this tribe came themes of his poetry and fiction. His five-part epic poem dealing with the Plains Indians and their conquest during the westward movement of the white frontier is published as The Song of Hugh Glass (1915), concerned with the legendary episode of 1823, when the frontier trapper was injured, and abandoned at the approach of hostile Indians by his youthful companion, Jim Bridger; The Song of Three Friends (1919), telling of the Ashley-Henry expedition of 1822–23; The Song of the Indian Wars (1925), recounting the last great struggle for the bison herds of the Plains; The Song of the Messiah (1935), telling of the last phase of Indian resistance to the white invasion, when the Indians could only hope that a messianic prophet would arise to deliver them; and The Song of Jed Smith (1941). These five works were gathered as A Cycle of the West (1949). Collected Poems (1926) contains rugged lyrics published in earlier volumes, and other books include The River and I (1910). an account of a boating trip on the Missouri River; The Lonesome Trail (1907) and Indian Tales, and Others (1926). short stories about Indians and frontier heroes; Life's Lure (1914), a novel of the Black Hills mining camps; The Splendid Wayfaring (1920). the story of Jedediah Smith; a play, Two Mothers (1921); a volume of essays, Poetic Values (1925); and When the Tree Flowered (1951) and Eagle Voice (1953), fictional accounts based on facts of Sioux life. All Is But a Beginning (1972) and Patterns and Coincidences (1978) are memoirs of his early years.

Subjects: Literature.


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