Winter in the Blood


Winter in the Blood (1974) is the first novel by Native American author James Welch, whose parents were Blackfeet and A'aninin; he grew up on their reservations.[1]

Winter in the Blood was published by Harper & Row. It was later issued as a paperback by Penguin Paperback. It was adapted as an independent film of the same name, produced by Native American writer Sherman Alexie and released in 2012.


Set in contemporary times, the novel features a self-destructive narrator undergoing an identity crisis. He lives on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in central Montana. His tribe and his culture are clashing with a nearby white settlement and the effects of poor legislation by the federal government. He moves through his days in a mental haze and tries to find consolation in sexual encounters.

He suffers from family tragedies, trying to deal with memories of his father found dead in a snowdrift, and blaming himself for his elder brother's fatal accident at the age of fourteen. A distant tone is set from the beginning, as the narrator's name is never given.


The novel takes place on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and along the Hi-Line of Montana. These are areas where Welch lived in childhood. He grew up on this and the Blackfeet reservation.

Film adaptation

Winter in the Blood was adapted as a screenplay by Ken White.[2] It was produced as a 2012 feature film by Native American author Sherman Alexie with brothers Alex and Andrew Smith.[1] It was the Official Selection in 2013 of the Los Angeles, Austin, and American Indian film festivals.[2]

  1. ^ a b O’Connor, William (2014-08-22). "Sherman Alexie on His New Film, the Redskins, and Why It's OK to Laugh at His Work". The Daily Beast
  2. ^ a b Winter in the Blood, Official film website, accessed 14 February 2013

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