Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly 16:1 (Winter 1996). Copyright © 1996 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Although Mari Sandoz is perhaps best known for the biography of her Nebraska pioneer father, Old Jules (1935), her two other biographies, Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas (1942) and Cheyenne Autumn (1953), equally convey her distinctive historical vision of the American West. In these two works, Sandoz rewrites traditional epic formula, taking the perspective of the dispossessed Lakotas and Cheyennes and recounting not the growth and expansion of a culture, but its conquest. In spite of material defeat at the hands of dominant white society, her Native American leaders assume heroic stature, striving against all odds to preserve their people and culture.