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John Joseph Mathews Biography

(c.1894–1979), Talking to the Moon, Walden, Wah'Kon-Tah, Sundown

Native American writer, born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, educated at the University of Oklahoma. He is known for his literary autobiography, Talking to the Moon (1945), written in the tradition of Thoreau's Walden. After a life of international study and travel which began in France with the Signal Corps during the First World War and took him to Oxford University, the School of International Relations in Geneva, and to North Africa, Mathews returned in 1929 to Pawhuska where he built a cabin and lived for the next decade, recording his personal development as he rediscovered his tribal identity. The narrative develops a pattern of contrast and comparison between the Osage people and white Americans, the natural environment and Native American culture, the continuance of tribal values and the disruptive violence represented by the Second World War. Mathews's novels concern the impact of assimilationist policies on the lives of individuals and the effects of reservations on traditional Indian culture; these themes are explored in Wah'Kon-Tah (1932) and Sundown (1934). Mathews also published a biography, Life and Death of an Oilman: The Career of E. W. Marland (1951), and a personal history of his tribe, The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters (1961). See also Native American Literature.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Harriet Martineau Biography to John McTaggart (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart) Biography