John Rollin Ridge


John Rollin Ridge

His Life and Works

James Parins

American Indian Lives Series

262 pages


June 2004


$24.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

John Rollin Ridge is the first full-length biography of a Cherokee whose best revenge was in writing well. A cross between Lord Byron, the romantic poet who made things happen, and Joaquin Murieta, the legendary bandit he would immortalize, John Rollin Ridge was a controversial, celebrated, and self-cast exile.

Ridge was born to a prominent Cherokee Indian family in 1827, a tumultuous and violent time when the state of Georgia was trying to impose its sovereignty on the Cherokee Nation and whites were pressing against its borders. James W. Parins places Ridge in the circle of his family and recreates the circumstances surrounding the assassination of his father (before his eyes) and his grandfather and uncle by rival Cherokees, led by John Ross. Eventful chapters portray the boy’s flight with his mother and her family to Arkansas, his classical education there, his killing of a Ross loyalist and subsequent exile in California during the gold rush, his talent as a romantic poet and author, and his career as a journalist. To the end of his life, Ridge advocated the Cherokees’ assimilation into white society.

Author Bio

James W. Parins is a professor of English and director of the American Native Press Archives at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.


“Parins has done an admirable job of placing this important and enigmatic figure in his proper social, political, and historical context without simplistic or reductive explanations.”—Studies in American Indian Literature

“A well-researched, beautifully organized, and smoothly written biography of John Rollin Ridge. It is a memorable achievement, presenting a sharply realized characterization of this pioneer Indian writer.”—New Mexico Historical Review

Also of Interest