illustration ©2011 Ryan Huna Smith



John Gneisenau Neihardt was born in a one-room cabin in Illinois in 1881. His family later moved to Kansas, and then to Nebraska. After his graduation from Nebraska Normal College at age sixteen, he worked as a trader with the Omaha tribe, and began to write poetry and short stories based on his experiences. A canoe trip down the Missouri River inspired his first book, The River and I (1910), and in 1931 he published Black Elk Speaks, his most famous work, based on interviews with a Lakota Sioux holy man. The book has been called “the most influential ever written on Native American culture and religion.” In 1942 the Bureau of Indian Affairs commissioned Neihardt to write a cultural history of the Sioux people, and in 1948, at age sixty-seven, Neihardt received an appointment to teach at the University of Missouri. The Nebraska Legislature elected him as the state's poet laureate, a title he held from 1921 until his death in 1973. “The Last Thundersong” is from his 1926 collection Indian Tales and Others.


Western Classics:
Graphic Classics Volume 20

144 pages, color, $15