AdvisorEvers, Lawrence J.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study of D'Arcy McNickle (1904-1977) focuses primarily on his literary work: his two novels, The Surrounded (1936) and Wind from an Enemy Sky (1978), the manuscript versions of the two novels, and his short fiction. McNickle regarded fiction as a vehicle to explore his own identity as an American Indian. Of mixed French-Cree-American ancestry McNickle grew up on the Flathead Reservation in western Montana. Cut off from the Reservation and its traditions by a rather unhappy childhood, he struggled throughout his life to reestablish the severed bonds to his roots. In addition to this personal involvement in his fiction, McNickle also considered fiction a proper medium for writing tribal history, one that could include such diverse materials as oral tradition, literature, history, anthropology, etc. The first three chapters of the dissertation provide some background information on the Flathead tribal history, as well as the problems and prejudices McNickle encountered while growing up as a "breed," which led to a rejection of his American Indian heritage. This section ends with a consideration of his pivotal years in New York City when he started to rethink his earlier experiences and took the first step on his journey back to his tribal roots. The middle section, chapter four, gives a brief summary of McNickle's activities during the years he was involved with federal Indian policy. Even though McNickle did not work on any new fiction during those years, he continued his journey in a more detached way through non-fiction and biography. The last two chapters of the dissertation, the final stage of his journey, analyzes McNickle's disassociation from the abstract policies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and how he turned to fiction once more in order to complete the painful but successful journey back to his tribal roots.