Author Profile

(Critical Survey of Native American Literature)

Mourning Dove was one of the first American Indian writers to publish a novel. Co-Ge-We-A, The Half-Blood: A Depiction of the Great Montana Cattle Range appeared in 1927. Mourning Dove’s novel was extensively edited by her mentor, friend, and agent, Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, who believed that the text provided a good platform to protest the mistreatment suffered by Indians; however, the essential story, which draws upon the romance novel and western genres in order to offer a realistic view of the Montana frontier, is substantially Mourning Dove’s work.

Mourning Dove’s love for Okanagan culture derived from the education in tradition she received from an elder who lived with the family when she was a young girl. Mourning Dove continued her study of Okanagan traditions as an adult and compiled a collection of tales which was first published under the title Coyote Stories (1933); it had been heavily edited, however, by Heister Dean Guie, who omitted important material and rewrote the text to address a juvenile audience.

Mourning Dove left many unpublished manuscripts when she died, and two works have been published posthumously. The collection of traditional tales was reedited by Donald M. Hines as Tales of the Okanogans (1976); this edition is more complete and closer to Mourning Dove’s own lively style. Mourning Dove: A Salishan Autobiography (1990) was edited by Jay Miller from various unpublished manuscripts.