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James Welch
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    (November 18, 1940-August 4, 2003)
    Born in Browning, Montana
    Birth name is James Phillip Welch, Jr.
    Novelist and poet of Blackfeet and A'aninin ancestry
    Founding author of the Native American Renaissance
    Author of 'Riding the Earthboy 40,' 'Fools Crow,' 'Winter in the Blood,' 'The Death of Jim Lonely,' and 'Heartsong of Charging Elk'
    Received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas (1997)
    He married his English professor.
    He liked to describe himself as just 'an Indian who writes.'
    He joked about his background in an interview with Mary Jane Lupton, saying 'people get upset because I don't look like an Indian' (or would mistake him for Irish because of his surname).
    He repeatedly turned down offers from Hollywood to do movie scripts, flatly telling a Baltimore newspaper, 'I don't do film.'
    He has been accused of offering a slanted and biased view of the Native American Wars in his one nonfiction effort, 'Killing Custer' (which probably gets mistaken for a Bill O'Reilly book most of the time anyway).
    His poetry career allegedly started after he challenged Richard Hugo to write a poem about the bar they were drinking at, at the time.
    They both wrote three poems, and, still being tipsy, sent the poems to The New Yorker, which accepted them to their shock (isn't that how Mary Shelley got started?)
    He said on his early literary aspirations: 'It didn’t take me long to realize that I was in way over my head. I discovered I didn’t know how to write the kinds of poems my classmates wrote. Up to then, my poems had rhymed and were filled with majestic mountains and wheeling gulls.'
    His early pre-writing jobs included a Forest Service firefighter, a laborer, and an Upward Bound counselor.
    He drew from his experience as a Blackfeet native with Irish roots to depict protagonists with a familiar sense of 'displacement' (in addition to depicting 'reservation life' more realistically).
    He was one of the first big-name American Indian novelists, alongside N. Scott Momaday.
    He laid the groundwork for luminaries like Sherman Alexie (without drawing as much negative attention to himself as Alexie did).
    His most famous novel, 'Fools Crow,' won the American Book Award, in 1986.
    He wrote mainly about Native American topics, but had a faithful following in Europe (his works were translated into at least 9 languages).
    He was awarded the Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal, while in Paris (1997).
    He remained humble after attaining success as a writer, continually describing himself as 'lucky' and 'in the right place at the right time.'
    He critiqued Kevin Costner's 'Dances with Wolves' film for its inaccuracies, saying: 'The main problem with Dancing [...] is the homogeneity, the interchangeability of the Indian characters.'
    While he never wrote for a Hollywood movie, he did write the script for a PBS documentary, 'Last Stand at Little Bighorn,' which won an Emmy Award.
    He died after suffering a heart attack, ten months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
    'Winter in the Blood' was converted to an Indie film adaptation by Sherman Alexie, in 2014, which became a hit on the American Indian film festival circuit.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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