This revealing book presents a selection of lost articles from “Our Osage Hills,” a newspaper column by the renowned Osage writer, naturalist, and historian, John Joseph Mathews. Signed only with the initials “J.J.M.,” Mathews’s column featured regularly in the Pawhuska Daily Journal-Capital during the early 1930s. While Mathews is best known for his novel Sundown (1934), the pieces gathered in this volume reveal him to be a compelling essayist. Marked by wit and erudition, Mathews’s column not only evokes the unique beauty of the Osage prairie, but also takes on urgent political issues, such as ecological conservation and Osage sovereignty. In Our Osage Hills, Michael Snyder interweaves Mathews’s writings with original essays that illuminate their relevant historical and cultural contexts. The result is an Osage-centric chronicle of the Great Depression, a time of environmental and economic crisis for the Osage Nation and country as a whole. Drawing on new historical and biographical research, Snyder’s commentaries highlight the larger stakes of Mathews’s reflections on nature and culture and situate them within a fascinating story about Osage, Native American, and American life in the early twentieth century. In treating topics that range from sports, art, film, and literature to the realities and legacies of violence against the Osages, Snyder conveys the broad spectrum of Osage familial, social, and cultural history.
Michael Snyder is assistant teaching professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.
John Joseph Mathews (1894-1979) was the preeminent Osage author, naturalist, and historian of the twentieth century.
Foreword by Russ Tall ChiefForeword by Harvey Payne Introduction by Michael SnyderPART I – SCENE SETTINGPART II – BIRDS OF THE OSAGEPART III – CULTURE AND POLITICSPART IV —ROMANCE OF THE OSAGEPART V—AFRICAN AMERICANSPART VI—AUTUMNPART VII – MAN IN NATUREPART VIII—OSAGE WOMEN AND OTHERSPART IX—CONSERVATIONPART X—CRITIQUE OF SETTLER COLONIALISM PART XI— MURDER
This monograph is an important contribution to the field of American Indian Studies because it brings attention to the writings of John Joseph Mathews. Alongside his fellow Indigenous intellectuals, McNickle and Deloria, all three represent the scholarly and literary achievements that create a deeper understanding of “tribalography,” and the collective experiences of Indigenous peoples can be traced through their writings.
John Joseph Mathews observed and immersed himself in the natural world, documenting, honoring, and defending it. In Our Osage Hills, Michael Snyder revisits Mathews's early lost writings, contributing his own valuable perspective and historical context. From where we stand now, we would do well to pay attention.
Michael Snyder is to be praised for his profound literary archeological work in unearthing and contextualizing previously unknown writings by John Joseph Mathews. Snyder’s short essays and commentaries punctuate Mathews’s texts, reminding readers that Mathews was a nature-writer and philosopher as well as a chronicler of the Osages who is to be reckoned with.
Michael Snyder has done an excellent job of collecting and providing context for Mathews’ pieces. This is an important book about an important literary figure.
An important contribution to our understanding of the writer, the era, and, most significantly, the place: the Osage hills of Oklahoma. Michael Snyder has uncovered lost gems of John Joseph Mathew’s work and offers them in extraordinary bites, accompanied by his own interstitial essays that illuminate backstory and sociohistorical context. Coupled with his biography John Joseph Mathews: Life of an Osage Writer, this book affirms Snyder’s place as a significant scholar of Mathews’ work.