John Neihardt

John Neihardt (1881-1973) was born in Illinois and lived in various places in the Great Plains areas of the Midwest before moving to Nebraska when he was ten years old. He began writing as a teenager and, as he got older, his published poetry enjoyed a much wider audience.

In Paris, a student who was studying with the renowned sculptor, Auguste Rodin, read one of his books. She loved his poetry so much that she wrote to him and he wrote back! They kept exchanging letters and a year later Mary Martinsen moved to Nebraska and married John Neihardt.

Neihardt is most famous for the book Black Elk Speaks which records the beliefs, thoughts and visions of a Lakota medicine man. The book has remained a significant work of Native American history and a new edition was released in 2008. Read our web page about Black Elk here: Black Elk in Nebraska.

In addition to Native American culture, Neihardt wrote books of poetry about Nebraska and its inhabitants.

The John G. Neihardt State Historic Site

The John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, in Bancroft, Nebraska, is a place which showcases all things Neihardt and encourages young writers. Bancroft is a small village in northeast Nebraska with a population of fewer than 500 residents, but it was home to John Neihardt for approximately 20 years. During his time, the population was around double what it is today.

The Neihardt Center is the fifth stop on our Nebraska Author Adventures Trail.

Rebecca Blake Beech