Ray Young Bear

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Ray Young Bear (born 1950 in Marshalltown, Iowa) is a Native American poet and novelist of the Meskwaki tribe. He writes about contemporary Native Americans in English and in the Meskwaki language.

Literary career[edit]

Growing up on the Meskwaki Tribal Settlement in Iowa, he was encouraged to learn English by his maternal grandmother, and he began to translate his poems into that language. His work was first published in 1968.

He writes about the dislocation of contemporary Native Americans who are pulled by two different cultures. He has written some prose fiction, but says that "all his writing is merely experiments with words" (Kratzert 1998). His novels, starting with Black Eagle Child (1992), describe his youth through the character of Edgar Bearchild. They combine first-person narrative, letters, religious imagery, and poetry. He often switches between English and the Meskwaki language to express himself more fully.

Selected works[edit]


  • Grandmother (1975)
  • Winter of the Salamander (1980)
  • The Invisible Musician (1990)
  • The Rock Island Hiking Club (2001)
  • The Aura of the Blue Flower That is a Goddess (2001)


  • Black Eagle Child (1992)
  • Remnants of the First Earth (1996)

See also[edit]


  • Kratzert, M. "Native American Literature: Expanding the Canon", Collection Building Vol. 17, 1, 1998, p. 4