Louis Oliver (poet)

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Louis Oliver

Louis Oliver (April 9, 1904 – May 10, 1991), also known as Little Coon or Wotkoce Okisce, was an American poet of the Muscogee (Creek) people.[1][2] His poetry combines themes of Creek folklore with an examination of intellectualism in the context of the Creek nation.[3]

Oliver was born on April 9, 1904, in Coweta, Oklahoma, which at the time was still part of the Indian Territories; his parents died when he was young and he was raised by relatives in Okfuskee.[3] He studied at the Euchee Indian School and then Bacone College;[4] unlike many of his contemporaries, he earned a high school diploma in 1926, an accomplishment that alienated some other Muscogee who accused him of "capitulating to the White Man's ways".[3]

While living among the Cherokee in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in the early 1980s, Oliver joined a writing group that included several published authors, and moved away from the more classical European forms of poetry that he had been practicing until then.[4] He became the author of two books of poetry, Caught in a willow net: poems and stories (Greenfield Review Press, 1983) and Chasers of the sun: Creek Indian thoughts (Greenfield Review Press, 1990). In 1987, the Este Mvskoke Arts Council of the Muscogee people gave him their inaugural Alexander Posey Literary Award.[4] He died on May 10, 1991, in Tahlequah.[4]

Maskoke Okisce (Creek Fable) on display in Leiden

One of his poems, about and in the form of a tornado, is included in the Wall poems in Leiden outdoor poetry project in Leiden, Netherlands.[5]


  1. ^ "Oliver, Louis Littlecoon", The Encyclopedia of North American Indians, 8, Marshall Cavendish, 1997, p. 1017.
  2. ^ Roman, Camille; Travisano, Thomas J. (2005), "Louis (Little Coon) Oliver, 1904–1991", The New Anthology of American Poetry: Modernisms, 1900-1950, Rutgers University Press, pp. 746–748, ISBN 9780813531649.
  3. ^ a b c Womack, Craig S. (1999), "Chapter 6: Louis Oliver: Searching for a Creek Intellectual Center", Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism, University of Minnesota Press, pp. 187–211, ISBN 9780816630226.
  4. ^ a b c d Strom, Karen M., "Oklahoma Author: Louis (Little Coon) Oliver (1904-1991)", Storytellers: Native American Authors Online, retrieved 2013-02-21.
  5. ^ Crerand, Patrick J. (2008), The Land of Good Deeds, Ph.D. thesis, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, p. 5, ISBN 9780549627180.