Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Mary Whitebird

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Died  October 2010

Mary Whitebird is the pseudonym of a writer who has long had an interest in the life of the States in the late 20th century. Her famous short story "Ta-Na-E-Ka" was published in the early 1970s. In reality, Mary Whitebird is a very private writer and film-maker who was born in Arizona and died on October 2010 "Ever since I could remember, I've been interested in the American Indian. " I went to high school with a number of Seneca and Onondaga Indians, who lived in Rochester, New York. While I was in the army I was stationed in west Texas. I was the editor of the post newspaper, and had more free time than most soldiers- and more access on and off the military base. One of my friends was a Sac and Fox Indian from Oklahoma. With him, we drove to all the neighboring reservations (mostly Apache) and I saw firsthand some of the injustices (this was in the early 50s) accorded the Indians. I wrote some letters about it to the local newspaper. Since the army did not look kindly toward soldiers getting involved in controversial public issues, I signed my letters M. Whitebird. It was just a name that sounded generally Indian to me."

"I met a teenage Navajo girl who was having a hard time balancing her desire to explore the greater world and her allegiance to Navajo customs. From Jenny ( whose Navajo name was Granddaughter-of-he-who-Sings) I got the character of Mary Whitebird."


"Ta-Na-E-Ka" is based on a ceremony of the Kaw Indians. which is where she was a tribe of. My husband comes from the northern part of Nebraska. I visit the Omaha and Winnebago reservations in Nebraska regularly, and there are few Indians there of Kaw ancestry. Almost no full-blooded Kaw exist; they were a sub-tribe of the Kansas. Tuberculosis and cholera wiped them out about 70 years ago. But I learned of the ceremony from my father-in-law. And, I wrote the story.

This was an author's comment on his short story Ta-Na-E-Ka.


Mary Whitebird Wikipedia