Book about Osage writer will be released Thursday

Mike Erwin |

A new book on the late-great Osage writer John Joseph Mathews is scheduled for release this week, according to an Oklahoma City college professor who wrote the book.

“John Joseph Mathews: Life of an Osage Writer” author Michael Snyder said his book — published by the University of Oklahoma Press — will be out Thursday.

Snyder, 27, teaches English, humanities and Native American studies at Oklahoma City Community College. He admitted to being fascinated with Mathews — a cerebral tribal leader who penned Osage historical works “Wah-Kon-Tah” and “The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters,” as well as a biography of oilman E.W. Marland.

“I hope all of my friends will read it, since it is an inherently fascinating story,” Snyder said, adding that writing the book “was a labor of love into which I invested years of my life.”

Pawhuska attorney Harvey Payne consulted with the author numerous times about the project. Payne said Snyder was already planning a second volume on Mathews.

“He made that decision before he’d even finished the first volume,” added Payne, who — as an official with the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve — is the quasi-caretaker of the “Walden-like” Osage Hills’ cabin where the reclusive Mathews did much of his writing.

Mathews is buried next to the cabin, which is located a few miles from the Tallgrass headquarters and was acquired by The Nature Conservancy of Oklahoma a few years ago.

The foreword to Snyder’s book was provided by Russ Tallchief, an Osage-descended administrator at Oklahoma City University.