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Author Talk by William Heath

April 13, 2015

6:30 to 8 p.m.
Day Classroom, History Center

Join author William Heath as he explores the complex history surrounding William Wells. Born to Anglo-American parents on the Appalachian frontier in 1770, Wells was kidnapped at age 13 by Miami Indians who adopted him into their tribe. Wells moved between the two cultures all his life but was comfortable in neither. Vilified by some historians for his divided loyalties, he remains relatively unknown even though he is worthy of comparison with such famous frontiersmen as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Heath’s thoroughly researched book is the first biography of this man-in-the-middle.

Wells became a servant of the American empire while harboring deep sympathies for the native people. He married Chief Little Turtle’s daughter and distinguished himself as a Miami warrior, then became an American spy and an Indian agent whose multilingual skills made him a valuable interpreter. Heath examines pioneer life in the Ohio Valley from both white and Indian perspectives. This yields rich insights into Wells’s career and into broader events on the post-revolutionary frontier, where Americans were pushing westward and competing with the Old Northwest Indian nations for control of territory.

Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, the book will be available for purchase through the author at the event.

$5; $3 IHS members. Seating is limited. 

For tickets, visit tickets.indianahistory.org.

Praise for William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest

One of the most important but shadowy characters from the story of the Old Northwest is William Wells, the ‘white Indian,” who lived and died between two worlds in conflict.  William Heath brings a novelist’s graceful style and a historian’s impeccable research to this fascinating biography.”   – Paul Andrew Hutton, author of Phil Sheridan and His Army

 “William Heath has given us a thoroughly researched, detailed, and comprehensive account of the life and times of one of the most interesting and enigmatic figures on the early American frontier.”   – Colin G. Calloway, author of Pen and Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty Making in American Indian History

“The truth-is-stranger-than-fiction remarkable life of William Wells has found an ideal biographer in novelist-turned-historian William Heath.  This deeply researched reconstruction of Wells’ side-shifting odyssey brilliantly illuminates the confusing choices and challenges that confronted Indians and pioneers as they struggled against one another and with themselves on the early American frontier.”  Stephen Aron, author of How the West Was Lost: The Transformation of Kentucky from Daniel Boone to Henry Clay

IHS Press books based in this time period will also be available for purchase in the Basile History Market: Bones on the Ground by Elizabeth O’Maley, Murder in Their Hearts: The Fall Creek Massacre by David Thomas Murphy, and The Native Americans by Elizabeth Glenn and Steward Rafert.

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