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James Welsh (b. 1940)

James Welsh (b. 1940)

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Blackfoot/Metis novelist James Welsh of Montana is profiled.
Blackfoot/Metis novelist James Welsh of Montana is profiled.

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Oct 27, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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James Welsh.

James Welch was born in Browning, Montana on November 18, 1940, the Metis son of James P. Welch born 1914 in Browning, Montana and Rosella Marie O’Bryan born in Coburg, Montana. His paternal grandparents were James B. Welsh, Blackfeet/Metis (b. 1873 in Cherokee, North Carolina) and Ellen Sandoval, Gros Ventre/Metis (b. 1882). Maternal great grandparents were Isidoro Sandoval born 1831 in Fort Benton, Chouteau, Montana, and Margaret Buffalo Painted Lodge born 1844 in Badger Creek, Montana. As a child, Welch attended schools on the Blackfoot and Fort Belknap reservations. Welch then attended the University of Minnesota in the 1950s and the University of Montana (B.A., 1965), where he studied under the author Richard Hugo and began his writing career. Welch was at the University of Montana when he started the creation of works that would establish his place in the Native American Renaissance literary movement. Welch taught at the University of Washington and at Cornell. He also served on the Parole Board of the Montana Prisons Systems and on the Board of Directors of the Newberry Library D'Arcy McNickle Center. With the publication of his first novel, Winter in the Blood (1974), Welch became widely recognized as a leading figure in Native American literature. His novels have been translated and published in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Japan, Sweden, and England. Welch and Paul Stekler co-wrote the Emmy Award-winning American Experience documentary, Last Stand at Little Bighorn, shown on PBS. Together they also wrote the history Killing Custer: The Battle of Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians (1994). Novels: • Winter in the Blood (1974), • The Death of Jim Loney (1979). • Fools Crow (1986), • The Indian Lawyer (1990), Poetry: • Riding the Earthboy 40 (1971; reprint, 1976) When Winter in the Blood was reprinted in 2007, it included an introduction by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa/Michif/Cree), who wrote: It "is a central and inspiring text to a generation of western regional and Native American writers, including me." Welch occasionally taught at the University of Washington and Cornell University as a visiting professor, and lived in Missoula, where he wrote full-time. Welch died of a heart attack August 4, 2003, in Missoula.


Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute


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