5835 Vine Street Lincoln, Nebraska 68505
Dear Stan,

It was good to hear from you again, as always.

Of course I am interested in what you say about the The Song of the Indian Wars. Here are a few points that you might be able to use. First, as to the acceptance of the book: When it appeared in 1925 it was chosen from world literature by a national committee as one of 500 books to constitute the White House Library. Second, Dr. Frederick Jackson Turner of Harvard, author of the famous book, The Frontier in American History, read The Song of the Indian Wars and remarked when he returned the copy to one of his graduate students, who had been my student also; "After all, perhaps the poet is the best historian." Third, while it is true to recorded history, most of the material was obtained from those who were in the Indian Wars, both whites and Indians. I was the first civilian member of the Order of the Indian Wars, and knew officers who had fought on the Plains.

As you know, The Song of the Indian Wars deals with the great westward migration which took place after the Civil War and with the last great fight for the bison pastures between the westering white man and the Plains Indians——the Sioux, the Cheyenne, and the Arapahoe. It is interesting to note also that The Cycle of the West, which includes The Song of the Indian Wars, was chosen as one of the best 3000 books appearing in the 3000 years from Homer to Hemingway. These were chosen by a consensus of expert opinion aver ​ a period of thirty years. The book, The World's Best Books from Homer to Hemingway, edited by John Asa Dickinson, is available in any large library. The foregoing points are given merely to suggest the importance of the book.

As to heroes, the prefactory material in the school edition of The Song of Three Friends and The Song of Hugh Glass gives the reason for regarding the movement as typically epic and the heroes as epic heroes. This edition is now a collector's item, and if it isn't available to you , I will xerox the pertinent material. The Cycle of the West, including The Song of the Indian Wars, has been characterized as the first democratic epic, the heroes being common men. If you will read it through again (How many times already!), you will find that heroism occurs often and at various levels in The Song of the Indian Wars; at the highest level in Crazy Horse and at a lower level in Condon, standing on his barrel of beans and telling Death, the blackguard, what he thought of him. In order to choose the heroes you need only to read the Song again. Beecher's Island has several examples of heroism, both white and Indian (remember Roman Nose), and so have the Wagon Box fight and the Custer fight.

Think of the heroism of Spotted Tail, who put the death paint on his face and offered himself to be punsished for his depredations on the Platte, thus shielding his warriors. You could find, I think, a score of unquestionable examples of heroism on various levels.

I should think that it would not be necessary to argue the importance of this American theme and the American heroes, both Indian and white.

I know that you know these things I have pointed out, but I am only trying to remind you. I suggest that you write out a statement including all the points that I have made, using my order and as much of my own wording as seems desirable. In fact, you may make any use of this letter you like.

I am glad that you would like to teach my stuff, because I know the power of your enthusiasm.

With the old love for you, Alicia, and the youngsters,

John G. Neihardt