Before Black Elk Speaks, before his epic poem "A Cycle of the West", John G. Neihardt wrote many short stories that found favor with readers and critics. Among his best were the 17 collected in Indian Tales and Others in 1926. "The Singer of the Ache", considered Neihardt's highest achievement in short fiction, portrays young Moon-Walker's quest for supernatural powers achieved at a price.
Other Indian tales include "The Look in the Face", one of many about a social outcast; "The White Wakunda", about a Christ figure; "The Mark of Shame", concerning murder as a violation of the natural order; "Vylin" and "Mignon", moral fables about Indian-white marriages; "The Last Thunder Song"; and "Dreams Are Wiser Than Men".
Other stories, set on the frontier, are "The Scars", "The Nemesis of the Deuces", "The Revolt of a Sheep", "The Parable of the Sack", "The Art of Hate", and perhaps Neihardt's most popular tale, "The Alien", in which a fur trapper makes a pet of a she-wolf, with unexpected consequences. "The Red Roan", a ghost story, and "Beyond the Spectrum", about a man who may have stepped outside his body permanently, bring to a peak the strain of the supernatural that is apparent throughout the collection.
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