Born of a Blackfoot father and Gros Ventre mother, Welch grew up in an Indian environment, and the traditions and religion especially of the Blackfoot inform his writing. He attended the University of Montana, where he received his B.A. degree. As an adjunct professor he teaches writing and Indian studies at the University of Montana.
Much of Welch’s fiction pivots on the interaction between the American Indian and white America. In Winter in the Blood (1974), Welch presents a nameless protagonist who feels displaced, caught between two worlds, helpless in a world of stalking white men, but unaccepted by Indians—a stranger to both. Similarly, in The Death of Jim Loney (1979), Welch portrays a half-blood who is unable to find a place in either world. Different from his first two novels, Fools Crow (1986) is a historical novel set in the 1870’s which depicts Fools Crow, who attempts to live a traditional Blackfoot life in the context of white settlement and the U.S. government’s war against Plains Indians. Welch includes episodes from Blackfoot oral narrative and describes traditional ceremonies. The Indian Lawyer (1990) tells the story of an Indian who is torn about how best to help his people: law practice and politics or on the reservations themselves, while his own worst enemy is himself. The poetry collection Riding the Earthboy 40 (1971) is best for its protest...
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