James Welch (writer)

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James Welch
James Welch in 2000 after being knighted and awarded an honorary medal by France
Born (1940-11-18)November 18, 1940
Browning, Montana
Died August 4, 2003(2003-08-04) (aged 62)
Missoula, Montana
Occupation Author, educator
Nationality Blackfoot
Genre Fiction
Literary movement Native American Renaissance
Notable works Winter in the Blood (1974) Fools Crow (1986)

James Welch (November 18, 1940 – August 4, 2003), who grew up within the Blackfeet and A'aninin cultures of his parents, was an award-winning Native American novelist and poet,[1] considered a founding author of the Native American Renaissance. His novel Fools Crow (1986) received several national literary awards.

In 1997 Welch received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.[2]


James Welch was born in Browning, Montana on November 18, 1940. His father was a member of the Blackfeet tribe and his mother a member of the Gros Ventre tribe; both also had Irish ancestry but had grown up within Native American cultures.[1] As a child, Welch attended schools on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap reservations.

For college, Welch attended the University of Montana, where he studied under the poet Richard Hugo. He began his writing career,[3] publishing poetry and fiction. His novels established his place in the Native American Renaissance literary movement. Welch also taught at the university.[4]

Welch also briefly attended Northern Montana College[5] (now known as Montana State University-Northern). He taught English and writing at the University of Washington and at Cornell University.[citation needed]

In her introduction to the 2007 reprint of Winter in the Blood, fellow writer Louise Erdrich said: It "is a central and inspiring text to a generation of western regional and Native American writers, including me."[6] This novel was adapted as a film by the same name, released in 2012 and produced by Sherman Alexie.

In addition to his novels, Welch co-wrote with Paul Stekler the screenplay for Last Stand at Little Bighorn, the Emmy Award-winning documentary that was part of the American Experience, shown on PBS.[7] Together they also wrote the history, Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians (1994).

Welch served on the Board of Directors of the Newberry Library D'Arcy McNickle Center in Chicago.[8][9]

In addition to his literary work, Welch served on the Parole Board of the Montana Prisons Systems, reviewing records of prisoners to determine if their sentences can be shortened.[citation needed]

Welch died at his home in Missoula, Montana in 2003.[10]





  • Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians (1994)


  • Riding the Earthboy 40 (1971 rpt. 1975)
  • Last Stand at Little Bighorn
  • Christmas Comes to Moccasin Flat

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Acclaimed author James Welch dies
  2. ^ a b Lundquist, Suzanne Evertsen (2004). Native American Literatures: an introduction. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 80. ISBN 978-0826415998. OCLC 55801000. 
  3. ^ History and Literature in the Pacific Northwest, University of Washington, URL last accessed July 17, 2007
  4. ^ Famous Montanans: James Welch, Native American Author, Montana Kids, accessed on July 11, 2007
  5. ^ James Welch's Biography "ipl2 Native American Authors" Check |url= value (help). 
  6. ^ Louise Erdrich, "Introduction", Winter in the Blood (2007 reprint)
  7. ^ Last Stand at Little Bighorn, Alibris.com, URL last accessed July 11, 2007
  8. ^ James Treat: Writing the Cross Culture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, URL last accessed July 17, 2007.
  9. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: James Welch". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Writer James Welch dies at 62", Missoulian, 6 August 2003, accessed July 11, 2007
  11. ^ List of NWCA Lifetime Achievement Awards, accessed 6 Aug 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]