Outdoor adventure Mythic adventure
Glacier County, Montana
February 14, 1942
Ghost Horse Cycle
In his fiction, Jamake Highwater incorporates many stories from the Native American oral tradition. Anpao: An American Indian Odeyssey, his first novel, relates the journey of a Native American boy who wants to find the sun. Traveling with him is his brother, Oapna, who says everything backward. After Oapna dies, Anpao realizes that Oapna was actually his contrary self. The book was a Newbery Honor book in 1978.
“I created Anpao out of many stories of the boyhood of early Indians,” Highwater said in “The Storyteller's Farewell,” “and from my own experience as well, in order to make an Indian 'Ulysses' who could become the central dramatic character in the saga of Indian life in North America.
“North American Indians did not evolve a written language, at least not the kind of language familiar to the peoples of Europe. This book is my personal effort to use the vast facilities of the tradition of written literature to convey the energy, uniqueness, and imagery of Indian oral tradition. I have approached it, however, not as a stenographer or as an ethnologist, who would tend to value verbatim transcriptions. I have written these stories as a writer. But I have been careful to preserve the qualities unique to non-written folk history.”
Descended from Blackfeet and Cherokee Indians, Jamake Mamake Highwater's father was a rodeo clown and movie stuntman.