Hello Friends and Readers:
Back in the 1970s and 80s our family used to produce periodic newsletters along with our book lists, to present updates on our work. Nowadays that work is mostly just done by myself, and this is my first try at an update via electronic means. Lots of changes since those earlier days, both in the family and in the book business.
Regarding the latter, my main work at this time is The Blackfoot Papers, both in size and scope, as well as in promoting, marketing and paying off the debt of these books to the printer. In that regard, I would deeply appreciate any help you can give in letting potential readers know that The Blackfoot Papers exist. Word of Mouth is a valuable part of this process.
Discussions are underway for the publication of two abridged versions of the four-volume Blackfoot Papers. These will have 200-some pages, one with selected texts, the other with selected photographs. These will be for a general audience, and for use in classrooms.
The old Good Medicine Books series (mostly shortened and revised) has been published for several years now by The Book Publishing Company of Tennessee, a branch of the pioneer group known as The Farm. Last year they brought out my book, The Tipi--Traditional Native American Shelter, and they will shortly be releasing Native Childhoods, a revised version of Children of the Sun, originally published by William Morrow of New York in 1987.
Two photo-essay books of mine are looking for the right publisher(s). One is about the Rocky Mountains, the other is about Trains and Antique Transportation in Cuba, which is getting pretty far off track for me, so to speak (though not really, if you knew the whole story).
Since completion of The Blackfoot Papers, most of my writing enthusiasm has been for fiction works, of which I have about four underway, one of them since the early 1960s! I dont give up easy on things I care for, including my book projects--even though it remains to be seen whether Im actually able to write fiction well enough. Ill find out in the coming seasons. The first novel is already finished and takes place in Cuba (again, with the whole story, it makes sense--at least to me). But my main fiction endeavors do take place mostly in and around my beloved Rocky Mountains, over several generations, starting back in the final buffalo hunting era.
As for the rest of the Hungry Wolf family--its moved around and grown. Oldest daughter Monique Natosi lives in Portland with husband Shawn and is so successful with her internet business (sockdreams.com) that she hardly checks in with us (hint, if youre reading this!).
Oldest son Wolf married his sweetheart Brenda this past summer and continues to work as graphic design specialist for Auto Appearance in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Son Okan is awaiting the birth of his first child, with Janelle, while he continues his semi-nomadic existence with his herd of Spanish Mustangs, the buffalo horse of the Blackfeet. This autumn he is working his 13th season as hunting guide in the rugged wilderness of southeast British Columbia, next to Waterton and Glacier National Parks. With his Sun Dance partner Stella, he put up his 6th Okan, or Medicine Lodge, at the Blood Reserve this summer.
Son Iniskim drives big semi-trucks all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, mostly hauling grain, usually spending his off-time with his kids, who are quickly developing their own characteristics. Number one grandchild, Cashius Klay Hungry Wolf, turned six and started school this year. He caught his first fish (three fine cutthroat trout with his OPapa (me), down at the river where his dad caught his first fish some 25 years ago. Cash also helped me in singing and leading four medicine bundle ceremonies this past year on the Blood Reserve, spiritual highlights for both of us. His sister Aliyah and younger brother Dustin Stone look up to him and his gentlemanly ways.
Youngest daughter Star, with husband Pat Cardinal and daughter Natanik, has a nice home with big garden near downtown Cranbrook, B.C., which has always been town for us. She is on leave from working with children of her husbands tribe, the Kootenay, or Tunaxa--to have a second child of her own.
Three of the five have expressed interest in writing books of their own, sooner or later, so the Hungry Wolf heritage will probably go on. Besides, six-year old Cashius already has his own first book underway, with some pretty creative ideas expressed in captivating drawings and titles that he does in a big notebook each time he stays out on our wilderness ranch with me.
So now its back off to the Andes of Peru for me. Thats right, even with life in the Canadian Rockies, a growing family, and serious cultural commitments, I still enjoy seeking new adventures among special people--in this case the Qechua, descendants of the fabled Inkas and practitioners of a frugal life full of mountain spirits, honesty, and respect.
I fulfilled a lifelong yearning by visiting the Andes for the first time this past March and April (after being happily snowed-in out here in the Canadian Rockies for most of January and February). It was to have been a one time journey (with thoughts of next fulfilling my other lifelong mountain goal, to Bhutan in the Himalayas). But.... I ended up with a young Cusco taxi driver named Rolando Huallpa becoming my adopted son, when he brought me to the remote mountain community where he and his wife grew up. While staying with the in-laws (his father was murdered long ago and his mother is also dead), and with his widowed aunt, we all had a powerful ritual together with the Mountain Spirits, and with Pachamama, the Earth Mother. The ritual leader, the local shaman, was Buena Venturo, who is near my age. We became adopted brothers during my days of visits. Accepting their invitation to come back and experience more, Ive left open the month of October to see what the Mountain Spirits will bring.
Tune in for more of Hungry Wolf on the Good Medicine trail.... Written by AHW along the Kootenay River on September 20, 2007.
Excerpts from Newspaper write-ups of The Blackfoot Papers:
From the Great Falls Tribune of May 21, 2007:
Blackfoot Paper preserve past
Four-part set was 40 years in the making
By Eric Newhouse
Tribune Projects Editor
What started out as a simple little book 40 years ago has grown into a four-volume monstrosity, chuckles the author, Adolf Hungry-Wolf.
The Blackfoot Papers weighs 15 pounds and tells the story of the Blackfoot Confederacy in 1,500 glossy pages, including nearly 3,000 paintings and illustrations.
The price is hefty, too--$300 for the boxed, four-volume set or $1,000 for a leather-bound, limited edition volume. Volume 1 is Pikunni history and culture; II is ceremonial life; III is a Pikunni portfolio; and IV is biographies of the elders and leaders.
Members of the tribe credit Hungry-Wolf for taking the time and effort to learn and preserve their history and culture.
Darrell Norman, owner of the Lodgepole Gallery in Browning, credits Hungry-Wolf with saving some Blackfeet ways that might have been lost.
It took sacrifice on Hungry-Wolfs part.
I owe a huge debt to my printers and am struggling hard to get them paid off, after which all the profits will go to the tribe, he said before a speech in the Great Falls Public Library Thursday evening.
The massive book cost $310,000 to print last year, he said, and all the author had was an inheritance of $64,000 from the estate of his parents.
But the printer believed in this project, so he took my $64,000 and gave me time to pay off the rest, Hungry-Wolf said.
Adolf Gutohrlein (his birth name) moved from his native Switzerland to southern California with his parents as a child of 9. In the 1960s he came to Montana, where his dancing caught the attention of Earl Old Person, chief of the Blackfeet Nation.
Adolf Hungry Wolf has been among our people for a long time now and has learned a lot of our ways, Old Person wrote in the introduction to the book.
He takes part in our dances and he also performs some of our traditional ceremonies, wrote Old Person. For him to write these books, I think it is important for him to have lived the kind of life that our people did.
I would say that he has shown more interest and obtained more knowledge of our traditional way of life than most of our people today, wrote Old Person.
One of Hungry Wolfs earliest mentors was James White Calf, who died in 1970 at either 110 or 116 years old.
He was the last warrior who took a scalp or killed a buffalo, Hungry-Wolf said. He fought in the last Plains Indian war (between the Blackfeet and the Gros Ventres) and lived into the Space Age.
White Calf taught him that living a natural life was far better than becoming an attorney, as he had once planned. Hes never regretted scrapping that plan.
Hungry-Wolf now lives along the Kootenay River in British Columbia.
Norman has known Hungry-Wolf for three decades, often assisting with him in medicine bundle ceremonies presided over by the tribes late spiritual leader, George Kicking Woman.
He and Beverly have had medicine bundles, painted tepees and participated in sun dances, Norman said.
Hes quite a character, but very credible, Norman added. He learned from some very old people, and if he hadnt made the knowledge available to the Blackfeet people, much of it would have been lost.
From BC BOOKWORLD, Winter 2006
Interview: Keeping the Door from the Wolf
How Adolf Hungry Wolf spent 44 years preparing his 4-volume history of the Blackfoot people.
By Alan Twigg
BC BookWorld: Can you pinpoint where the process for The Blackfoot Papers (Good Medicine $300) began?
Adolf Hungry Wolf: Right after high school, in 1962, I was at an estate auction of an anthropology teacher where everybody wanted pottery and furniture. Nobody bid against me for one box of old photos. There were a few hundred of them, mostly old scenes of the Blackfeet, though I didnt know that at the time. There was hardly any info with the prints. I didnt know much about the Blackfeet then. I didnt have any plans to join them.
I was making my second photo-history book on railroads. It occurred to me I might do something similar with these Indian photos but I never dreamed it would take me 44 years. I just figured Id get as many of the images identified as possible. By the seventies, I realized it would have to be a very large and well-done book. Im half Swiss. (Laughter) Precision and accuracy are in the genes!
BCBW: Not to mention perserverance.
AHW: Absolutely. All through the years I envisioned one book, but reality made me split it up. Four is our special number, ceremonially. So it became four volumes. And there are 400 numbered limited editions. There are 44 single volumes without numbers, which Ive been giving to those who helped most, plus my family. The first three volumes explain the tribal history, culture, lore, dancing and ceremonies, etc. The fourth one contains the biographies. Its the most popular so far. No surprise about that.
BCBW: What are some of your best discoveries youve made over the years?
AHW: The photos of people Ive come to know personally. Photos from the early 1900s. Even the late 1800s in a few cases. Im talking about elders, of course. Almost always they have never seen these photos of themselves. They were usually taken after someone came to a Sun Dance camp, a pow-wow, or whatever. They took some shots, then went back wherever they came from. A handful of these elders are still living. All of them got free books with their photos and stories. Every time I call them they seem to be browsing, reading, finding more stuff they never knew, photos they never saw before, and people they remember.
BCBW: Do you see anybody doing similar work to what youre doing? The American filmmaker Ken Burns, for instance?
AHW: Ive never heard of Ken Burns. I dont see my work in relation to anybody elses. I still dont take much part in book-related activities. I rarely read book. I never think of myself as a loner, though thats probably what I am. At least in regards to the literary world. BC BookWorld is about the only place I can think where I might feel I belong.
BCBW: As the proverbial white guy doing Indian stuff, do you get more flak these days from First Nations intellectuals or from the Indianology academics?
AHW: I dont know and I dont really care. My daughter Star says there have been enough hatchet jobs done over the years that I could do a book by just replying to them all. But that would be boring and useless. The last one was from some German professor. My eldest son and Star did get me to respond to some of the attacks in an upcoming autobiography, but thats mostly so my grandkids will hear my side of the story. There were some assassination attempts back in the seventies, but I dont have much dealings with the Native intellectuals. I dont know what they think of me. I dont care much. I lead a couple of the most important medicine bundle rituals for various traditional families within the Blackfoot Confederacy and I do care what those people think.
BCBW: Youve worked all this time without funding, but you must have had some support along the way.
AHW: (A lot of spiritual and moral support, especially from elders within the tribe, but nothing at all financially, to this day.) The book designing was done over the final two-year period with Dianne Jefferson and her computer. And I have had a very good relationship with David Friesen at Friesen Printing in Manitoba. Without him, these books could not exist. I gave him every penny I owned in cash, which was about one-fifth of the total cost. David flew me to Winnipeg, showed me the plant, put me up. He introduced me to everyone there, then said he believed enough in my project to bring it out. He knows my debt-paying from doing business together for twenty-some years. So thats it. Its just Friesens and me. There was no advance announcement, no public relations.
From The Glacier Reporter, Browning, Montana, May 14, 2006
Hungry Wolfs Blackfeet Papers is available at the Blackfeet Heritage Center
By John McGill, Editor
Its been 44 years in the making, said Adolf Hungry Wolf. The longtime author of books about Blackfeet and Blackfeet culture was speaking of a four-volume set of books hes just finished, each dealing with an aspect of Blackfeet life. Each is a volume of The Blackfoot Papers.
The family biographies are obviously the most important and the most interesting to people here, he said. Nearly all the traditional families are in here, and thats the reason I was at the college, to get last minute input from the families.
Trained in history and a history teacher for a time, Hungry Wolf said, Since childhood Ive had a fascination for nature and the people who knew nature best in the past. He found himself in Blackfeet country for the first time in 1967, having been told by a friend of a big powwow held in Browning in July. Thats how I was at North American Indian Days, and I was welcomed by the elders. The next year he returned and was adopted by Blackfeet elder Mary Ground as her grandson. That really started it, he said, and I hung around the old people a lot. the old peoples input to the books is their main value.
Hungry Wolf used his training in history to scour North Americas museums and archives for anything he could find on the Blackfeet. What resulted was a collection of more than 2,000 photographs. I brought them back here and looked them over with the elders, starting in 1968, he said. Every year, Hungry Wolf brought a new set of pictures for identification, working with the elders of the day. If I started today, trying to identify more than 2,000 photographs, I couldnt do it.
The four-book set includes many paintings and photographs in full color, he said, as well as sepia toned black-and-white photos, all identified with the help of local elders....
From The Glacier Reporter, Browning, Montana, December 6, 2006
Caption under photo:
Author Adolf Hungry Wolf signed and donated a copy of all four volumes of The Blackfoot Papers in one bound edition, Tuesday, Dec. 5 at the Blackfeet Community College. Julene Kennerly of the BCC accepted the tome in the Medicine Spring Library. The Blackfoot Papers is a 40-year project of Hungry Wolfs, and weighing in at 15, he believes it is the largest work ever written on any tribe, anyplace in the world. Hungry Wolf will appear in person at the BCC Christmas Bazaar, slated for Dec. 6-8 in the Student Commons. Blackfeet tribal members will receive a 20 percent discount on purchases of The Blackfoot Papers.
The Blackfoot Papers are now available. We have some sample pages on the site.
As well we have added many of our previously published Good Medicine Books to this site. Several of these have been revised.
A selection of our Canadian and Cuban Railway books are also available. Select the above Books Link.
Our books are now available through our KAGI store. You can purchase securely on line.