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Michael Dorris


Michael Dorris was born in Louisville in 1945. While of European descent on his mother’s side, he is of Modoc descent on his father’s side. His father served in Germany in the army but was killed in an accident when Dorris was two. His mother returned to the United States and Dorris was raised by his mother and other female family members. He took a B.A. in English and classics from Georgetown University and a M. Phil. from Yale in anthropology. He started a career teaching and also adopted three Native American children, though unmarried. He became a full professor at Dartmouth College, where he met and later married Louise Erdrich. They wrote books in collaboration. Dorris was accused of abusing his children and he and Erdrich separated. While it was never proved, he felt that the legal system would not exonerate him and he killed himself in 1997. He will be remembered for his novel A Yellow Raft in Blue Water and as well as his non-fiction book, The Broken Cord, on fetal alcohol syndrome.

Other links

Michael Dorris
A Broken Life
The Young Adult Novels of Michael Dorris
Michael Dorris Dies at 52; Wrote of His Son’s Suffering
A Writer’s Descent — A Dark Cloud Of Suspicion Hung Over The Final Pages Of Novelist Michael Dorris’ Life; Suicide May Have Been His Only Possible Ending
Michael Dorris & FAS


1975 Native Americans: Five Hundred Years After (photographs by Joseph C. Farber)
1983 A Guide to Research on North American Indians (with Arlene B. Hirschfelder, and Mary Gloyne Byler)
1987 A Yellow Raft in Blue Water
The Broken Cord: A Family’s Ongoing Struggle with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (later: The 1989 Broken Cord: A Father’s Story)
1991 Route Two and Back (with Louise Erdrich)
1991 The Crown of Columbus )with Louise Erdrich)
1992 Morning Girl
1993 Rooms in the House of Stone
1993 Working Men: Stories
1994 Paper Trail: Essays
1994 Guests
1996 Sees Behind Trees
1997 Cloud Chamber
1997 The Window