Mourning Dove (author)

Mourning Dove (author)

Mourning Dove was a Native American author and best known for her 1927 novel mixed-blood ranch woman on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The novel is one of the first written by a Native American[1] woman and one of few early Native American works with a female central character. She is also known for Coyote Stories (1933), a collection of Native American folklore (using her term).[2]

Mourning Dove is the English translation of her Indian name, Hum-isha-ma; her English name was Christal Quintasket. She was born in 1888 near Bonners Ferry, Idaho, to a Colville mother and a half-Okanagan, half-Irish father. She died on 8 August 1936.


Cogewea, the Half-Blood

Mourning Dove's novel treats a theme common in early Native American fiction: the plight of the mixedblood (or "breed"), caught between white and Indian cultures. Cogewea and her sisters Julia and Mary lost their Okanogan mother to death and their white father to the Alaskan gold rush and were raised by their Indian grandmother Stemteemä, but have since moved onto the Flathead Indian Reservation ranch owned by Julia's white husband, where she must fend between white, east-coast suitor Alfred Densmore (who has Julia's approval but also Mary's suspicions) and the half-blooded ranch foreman, James LaGrinder. However, Mourning Dove does not make this story a tragic-mixedblood tale, but allows Cogewea and Jim a happy ending. The novel is important not only as an early Native American woman's novel and for its happy ending, but also for because of the contributions of Mourning Dove's collaborator and editor Lucullus Virgil McWhorter, whose additions made Mourning Dove feel that the book was no longer hers.


  1. ^ It was long thought to be the first, but Sophia Alice Callahan (Creek) had published Wynema, a Child of the Forest in 1891
  2. ^ see Dexter Fisher's introduction to the U Nebraska edition of Cogewea, p. viii.

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