Literary Chronology

With the completion of the poetry and songs of Seekers of the Fleece in 1971 Bridger realized the form of the 'epic ballad' of his original concept in 1963. While writing the verse and songs of Seekers of the Fleece, however, Bridger also created a 'storyboard' or 'graphic narrative' of the epic ballad using the watercolor and oil paintings of Alfred Jacob Miller to accompany and depict the 'musical' and 'poetic' narratives. Traveling with the fur trappers as the personal painter of Scottish Lord, William Drummond Stewart, the young artist was the only person to capture images of the men who would become known as 'mountain men'. After intertwining this 'graphic narrative' into the poetic and musical narratives Bridger started writing 'historical narratives', or vignettes explaining the historic context of the poetic, musical and graphic narratives. His hope was that when intertwined the four narratives would create a unique and comprehensive presentation of the Fur Trade Era in American History.

A Ballad of the West

After writing historical vignettes and intertwining them into the poetic, musical and graphic narratives of Seekers of the Fleece, it became imperative to do the same with 'Seekers' companion pieces, Lakota and Pahaska. Enid Neihardt's generous gift of copies of fifty-two black and white photographs she took as a sixteen year-old girl 1931 as her father was gathering information from Lakota Holy Man Black Elk for Black Elk Speaks would provide the graphic narrative for Lakota. So the completion of the historical narrative of the Lakota epic ballad became imperative. Thus, Bobby Bridger's literary career began.

Four Winds Magazine

In the late 1970s a young man named Charles Lorhmann approached Bobby Bridger after a performance of A Ballad of the West at Austin's Waterloo Ice House and asked if he would be interested in doing a magazine presentation of 'Ballad'. When Bridger presented the collection of poetic, musical, graphic and historical narratives Lorhmann felt the concept was perfect for Four Winds, his new quarterly high art magazine dedicated the American west. Lorhman proposed to serialize A Ballad of the West over a two year period. Bridger contacted Vine DeLoria and asked if he would write an introduction to the piece and the author graciously accepted, wrote a splendid piece and asked author of The Man Who Killed The Deer, The Book of the Hopi and many other classic works, the late, great Frank Waters to write the introduction for the second installment of the 'Seekers' series in Four Winds.

A Ballad of the West: Seekers of the Fleece and Lakota
Hardback-Slipcase/Limited Edition of 250 copies
Wiyaka Press, Austin, Texas

The award-winning Smitherman Graphics Group designed Four Winds magazine and after laying out the presentation Seekers of the Fleece Larry Smitherman approached Bridger with a proposal to publish a hardback limited edition of A Ballad of the West. Smitherman's concept was to create a high art edition of two-hundred-fifty copies that would sell for $150 a copy. The book won a first place national design award for Smitherman and sold all copies of the edition in fifteen months.

The DeLoria Anthology Trilogy

When Vine DeLoria, Jr. attended 'Neihardt Day' in Bancroft, Nebraska as the featured speaker for the event in 1979 he had a great idea while he and Bridger sat on the steps of the cabin where the epic poet wrote his masterpiece, A Cycle of the West: Vine announced to Bridger that he was going to edit anthologies composed of essays by contemporary western writers celebrating three literary lions of the literature of the American west -Neihardt, Frank Waters and Dee Brown. Neihardt would be the first of the anthologies.

A Sender Of Words: Essay in Memory of John G. Neihardt
edited by Vine DeLoria, Jr. Howe Brothers Publisher,
Salt Lake City, Utah, ISBN 0-935704-22-1

Featuring The Enduring Presence of John Neihardt, by Bobby Bridger as well as essays by Dee Brown, Frank Waters, Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., N. Scott Momaday, Lucile Aly, Raymond J. DeMallie, Fredrick Manfred, Peter Iverson, Roger Dunsmore, Gretchen Bataille and Carl Starkloff.

Hoka Hey! Quarterly

In 1985 Bobby Bridger started publishing a quarterly sixteen-page newspaper tabloid in order to continue writing about issues and ideas that interested him. His long friendships in Indian country had also made Bridger aware that there existed many misconceptions between Indians and non-Indians and he hoped that the quarterly might create a middle ground for greater clarity. Bridger named the newspaper Hoka Hey! to allude to the Lakota battle cry, 'It's a good day to die!', or, 'Hold Fast! There is always more!'

Hoka Hey! published essays by a variety of noted authors and philosophers such as Vine DeLoria and Father Thomas Berry and did the very first interview with a featured member of the Dances With Wolves creative team, author and future Academy-award-winning screenwriter, Michael Blake. The periodical reported on landmark events such as the very first gathering of Native American tribes to ecumenically discuss ancient star knowledge and create the new field of 'Ethnoastronomy'. Provocative concepts such as 'Earth Economics', 'The Indian Future', 'What's Happening In Yellowstone, and 'Crystal Mining in the Ozarks' examined events behind the main stream news that impacted the environment and native people. Feature issues were devoted to important characters such as Frank Waters and, Grateful Dead lyricist and co-founder of the Electronic Freedom Foundation, John Perry Barlow, and the Kerrville Folk Festival. The quarterly existed on two levels: as a free, newspaper on the streets of Austin and, at the final publication in 1993, a periodical mailed to all fifty states in America and to fifty-two nations around the world. From 1985-1991 Hoka Hey! was a cut-and-paste operation lovingly laid out in tiny Itasca, Texas, but from 1991 until Bridger ended the enterprise in 1993 to focus on writing books the paper was created on a MacIntosh computer.

Best of the West Magazine

After assisting with the transition of Hoka Hey! from a cut-and-paste to a digital format, Bob Wishoff asked for a license to assemble essays from the periodical by Bridger into a magazine for distribution in Europe. Wishoff received a small budget from Phillips Electronics in Germany and created a limited edition of the magazine he dubbed, Best of the West.

Coyote Dreamtime: An American Balladeer's
Walkabout in the Australian Outback
(an unpublished manuscript)
(First Draft: 1986-1987)
(Second Draft: 2002)

In 1986, at the invitation of the South Australian Department of Education and the Cultural Outback Trust Association of South Australia, Bridger embarked on a unique twelve-week tour of the island continent's interior. He visited many locations never-before visited by a musician -Australian or American- to perform sections of A Ballad of the West. When Bridger returned he wrote a 100,000 word manuscript detailing the adventure.

Coyote Dreamtime: A Five Part Series
Austin American-Statesman

In 1987 Bridger published a five-part series of sections from Coyote Dreamtime in the Austin American-Statesman to celebrate the 'Sister-Cities' connection between Austin, Texas and Adelaide, South Australia.

The DeLoria Anthology Trilogy (continued)
Frank Waters: Man and Mystic
edited by Vine DeLoria, Jr. University of Ohio/Swallow Press, Athens, Ohio, ISBN 0-8040-0978-3

The second of Vine DeLoria's trilogy of anthologies features the essay Frank Waters: Becoming Indigenous by Bobby Bridger as well as essays by Max Evans, Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., Win Blevins, Michael Blake, Father Peter Powell, Steven Wall, Will Wright, William Eastlake, Larry Evers, David Jongeward, Rudolfo Anaya, Thomas Lyon, Joe Gordon, Robert Kostka, Charles Adams, Quay Grigg, Alexander Blackburn, T.N. Luther and Barbara Waters.

A Ballad of the West: Seekers of the Fleece and Lakota
paperback edition with foreword by Vine DeLoria, Jr.
Augustine Press, Austin, Texas ISBN 0-9636882-0-0

Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull: Inventing The Wild West
University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas ISBN 0-292-70917

Winner of Foreword Magazine's Gold Award as the 'Best Biography of 2002'.

Praise for Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull: Inventing The Wild West

'With the discipline of a scholar and the insight of a poet, Bobby Bridger has created a biography that is more than biography. Buffalo Bill was linked with Plains Indians people by friendship and warfare, by shared preferences and experiences, and by a sense of partnership and common destiny. This is a look into the soul of a people and of a man who was a medium for their cultural survival.'

Dr. Paul Fees, former Senior Curator of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming

'Bobby Bridger looks behind the myth of the West to illuminate the intriguing, complex, unexpected realities. His recreation of the prodigious life of Buffalo Bill, by turns heroic, epic, triumphant, and tragic, is fascinating.'

Win Blevins, author, Stone Song and Dictionary of the American West

'The life stories of Buffalo Bill and Sitting Bull are wonderful ones, and Bobby Bridger, with his love of the storied American West, is just the one to intertwine them. This is western non-fiction at its best.'

Alvin M. Josephy, author, A Walk Toward Oregon: A Memoir, Now That The Buffalo's Gone, and 500 Nations: An Illustrated History of North American Indians

' incredible achievement that both the general reader and the scholar should read. Keep it on your bedside table or on the desk in your office, depending on whether you plan to read it for enjoyment or education, but by all means, read it.'

Roundup Magazine Western Writers of America

The Shaman and The Showman: Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill
a cover-story feature by Bobby Bridger
Wild West Magazine, December, 2004

Seeking History's Heartsong: My Life As An Epic Balladeer
(First Draft, 2005)