Adrian C. Louis

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Adrian C. Louis (born 1946) is a Lovelock Paiute author from Nevada now living on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He has taught at Oglala Lakota College. His novel Skins (1995) discusses reservation life and issues such as poverty, alcoholism, and social problems and was the basis for the 2002 film, Skins. He has also published books of poetry and a collection of short stories, Wild Indians and Other Creatures (1996). His work is noted for its realism.


Born in northern Nevada in 1946, Louis is the eldest of twelve children. Of mixed heritage, Louis is of Lovelock Paiute descent. He moved from Nevada to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation.

Louis graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor's and MA in Creative Writing. Louis was also a former journalist and along with being editor of four tribal newspapers, he was the managing editor of Indian Country Today and a co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association.

Louis has ten published books of poetry and two novels. His poetry and fiction have garnered him much recognition and awards. His work has been praised by some of the other notable modern Native American writers, including Sherman Alexie, N. Scott Momaday, James Welch and Leslie Marmon Silko. In 1999, he was added to the Nevada Writer's Hall of Fame. In 2001 he was awarded the Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and the Cohen Award for best published poem in Ploughshares. He is also the recipient of the Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the South Dakota Arts Council, the Nebraska Arts Council, the National Endowment of the Arts and the Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Foundation.

Louis taught English at Pine Ridge's Oglala Lakota College from 1984–1997; since 1999, he has taught in the Minnesota State University systems.


In Louis' works he highlights the conditions of reservation life and Native American cultural demise through their own doing as a result of interference by White people. Louis writes about his own experiences to underscore the many problems that have plagued Indian country. These issues include alcoholism, poverty, race relations, and social problems. Louis writes about his own experience in his struggle with alcoholism as well as the people around him who have struggled with the disease. He writes a number of poems about Native Americans getting drunk and contributing to the destruction of their own people. In his poem "Another Indian Murder" Louis depicts a time when he witnessed two young, drunk Indians beating their friend with a baseball bat until he was dead. When the two boys sobered up enough to realize they had killed their friend they tried using kleenex to stop the bleeding from his head. He makes the point that the Native American people are destroying their society due to alcohol and notes how Native American culture and people have been negatively affected since the introduction of alcohol by the white man.

Louis explicitly makes his opinions about race relations and white people known. Through his writing Louis harshly criticizes the United States' current foreign policy as he connects the first Iraq War to the slaughter of the Native American people. In his poem "Red Blues In A White Town The Day We Bomb Iraqi Women And Children" Louis describes how the United States is bombing innocent people in Iraq. He makes the point that they are still invading people's homelands and killing them today just as they did to the Native Americans in the past. He also predicts that educated, white people will be dropping bombs on poor, innocent people for years to come.



  • The Indian Cheap Wine Seance (1974)
  • Muted War Drums (1977)
  • Sweets for the Dancing Bears (1979)
  • Fire Water World (1989)
  • Among the Dog Eaters (1992)
    • An edition was created for the West Point's 1993 plebe (freshman) class.
  • Blood Thirsty Savages (1994, Time Being Books)
  • Days of Obsidian, Days of Grace (1994)
  • Vortex of Indian Fevers (1995)
  • Ceremonies of the Damned (1997)
  • Skull Dance (1998)
  • Ancient Acid Flashes Back (2000)
  • Bones & Juice (2001)
  • Evil Corn (2004)
  • Deer Dreams (2006)
  • Logorrhea (2006)
  • Savage Sunsets (2012)
  • Random Exorcisms (2016)


  • Skins (1995)
  • Wild Indians & Other Creatures (1996)


  • Skins (2002) - Screenwriting


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

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