Published on September 20, 2013 by Amy
James Welch (November 18, 1940–August 4, 2003), was an award-winning U.S. author and poet. Welch is considered a founding author of the Native American Renaissance. His novel Fools Crow received several National Literary awards.
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Welch received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas in 1997.
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. As a child, Welch attended schools on the Blackfoot and Fort Belknap reservations.
Welch attended the University of Montana, where he studied under the author Richard Hugo and began his writing career. Welch was at the University of Montana when his writing career began in earnest, leading to 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, as well as serving on the Parole Board of the Montana Prisons Systems and on the Board of Directors of the Newberry Library D’Arcy McNickle Center.
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).
When Winter in the Blood was reprinted in 2007, it included an introduction by Louise Erdrich, who wrote: It “is a central and inspiring text to a generation of western regional and Native American writers, including me.”
Welch died at his home in Missoula, Montana in 2003.