Challenge Windzer, the mixed-blood protagonist of this compelling autobiographical novel, was born at the beginning of the twentieth century "when the god of the great Osages was still dominate over the wild prairie and the blackjack hills" of northeast Oklahoma Territory. Named by his father to be "a challenge to the disinheritors of his people," Windzer finds it hard to fulfill his destiny, despite oil money, a university education, and the opportunities presented by the Great War and the roaring twenties. Critics have praised Sundown generously, both as a literary work and a vignette into the Native American past. John Joseph Mathews, who died in 1979, was one of Oklahoma's genuinely gifted writers. He was the author of Wah' Kon-Tah: The Osage and the White Man's Road, a poetic description in prose of the spiritual life of the Indian, and a Book-of the-Month Club selection in 1932. His other books include Life and Death of an Oilman: The Career of E. W. Marland (1951), about the controversial governor of Oklahoma and the founder of the company that later became known as Conoco, and The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters (1961), a narrative history of his tribe. Talking to the Moon was first published in 1945 and is reissued with a foreword by Elizabeth Mathews, his widow. Mathews was the great-grandson of Old Bill Williams, a noted frontiersman, and was a mixed-blood Osage. For many years he served as a member of the Osage Tribal Council. Educated at the University of Oklahoma in geology and at Merton College, Oxford, where he took his degree in natural sciences, Mathews was a fine American blend of scientist and poet, philosopher and producer, historian and storyteller, Indian and white. His daughter, Virginia H. Mathews, author of the introduction, lives in Middletown, Connecticut.
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