Janet Campbell Hale Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Janet Campbell Hale, a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe of Northern Idaho, was born in Riverside, California, on January 11, 1946, the youngest of four daughters of Nicholas Patrick Campbell, a full-blooded Coeur d’Alene tribal member, and Margaret O’Sullivan Campbell, who was part Kootenay Indian and part Irish. A brother died in infancy a year before Hale’s birth. She lived with her parents on the reservation until the age of ten. All of her sisters were married by that time, and she and her mother and father lived in a rural, isolated area near Tacoma, Washington. Their home was twenty miles removed from their nearest neighbor. It had no electricity or running water, and temperatures in that region sometimes dropped to 40 degrees below zero.{$S[A]Campbell Hale, Janet;Hale, Janet Campbell}

As an American Indian who lived both on tribal reservations and in urban American society, Hale experienced life in different cultures and endured the prejudice which exists against people of her heritage. Her books present the trials and tribulations of life under these circumstances and the battles waged to overcome them. Hale suffered verbal and psychological abuse from her mother and, when they lived at home, her siblings. Hale’s father was an alcoholic who abused her mother. After leaving to escape her alcoholic husband, Margaret Campbell and her daughter lived in three states; Janet attended twenty-one schools. Her mother was an intelligent but uneducated woman who denied her Indian roots. Because she was uneducated, she was limited to working at menial jobs. At the age of twelve, Hale lived with her mother in the Yakima tribal reservation town of Wapato, Washington. She remained in poverty throughout her childhood and dropped out of school in the ninth grade. She always knew, though, that she was destined to write.

Hale left home and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There she met and married Arthur Dudley III and attended the Institute of American Indian Arts. During this short-lived marriage she had a son, Aaron Nicholas. Hale...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bataille, Gretchen M., and Laurie Lisa, eds. Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. 2d ed. New York: Routledge, 2001. Includes a brief biography of Hale.

Charles, Jim. “Contemporary American Indian Life in The Owl’s Song and ‘Smoke Signals.’” English Journal 90, no. 3 (January, 2001): 54-59. Describes how Hale’s The Owl’s Song presents literary, historical, social, and cultural issues in ways that undermine misunderstanding of contemporary American Indian people.

Hale, Frederick. Janet Campbell Hale. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1996. Short, fifty-four-page critical biography includes bibliographic references.

Steinberg, Sybil. Review of Women on the Run, by Janet Campbell Hale. Publisher’s Weekly 246, no. 39 (September 27, 1999): 71. Reviews the six stories in the book and discusses their women protagonists, finding common themes of struggle against adversity and the foundation of strength.