This essay examines the literary career of Marnie Walsh (1916–1996), a South Dakota poet and novelist who was frequently anthologized as a Sioux author even though she did not claim Native heritage herself. In the early 1970s, Walsh's experimental poems about reservation life in the Dakotas appeared in small magazines of western literature and contributed to a strand of innovative regionalist poetry that was rooted in the landscape and culture of the Great Plains. However, as her poems came to be understood as authentic expressions of Native American "voices," the confusion over Walsh's identity—compounded by her own wariness of publicity—highlighted critical assumptions that Native people's speech was innately poetic and expressed a shared experience of "plight" and dissociation. The reception of Walsh's work reflects the complex relationship between regionalist poetry of the Great Plains and Native literature during the 1970s and 1980s, revealing a shifting attitude toward what one critic called white authors who "donned the mask of the Indian."


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pp. 387-406
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