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Home > Teen Authors > Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald

Photo of Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald (b. 1949) is an author, editor, and publisher of books on world religions, sacred art, tradition, culture and philosophy who is based in Bloomington, Indiana. He has composed over a dozen books that have received over two dozen prestigious awards including the Foreword Book of the Year Award, the Ben Franklin Award and The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards. His books have been published in five different languages and at least ten of his books and two documentary films produced by him are used in university classes. Fitzgerald is an acknowledged authority on the religion and culture of the Plains Indians and is also the adopted son of the late Thomas Yellowtail, one of the most honored American Indian spiritual leaders of the last century. Fitzgerald holds an Honor’s Degree in Religious Studies from Indiana University, with Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude distinctions, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Indiana University with Cum Laude distinction.

Many of his works (including two documentary films produced by him) are used in classrooms throughout the country, and he has often used his book, Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience as part of his presentation to high-school classes.

Michael Fitzgerald was born in Indianapolis and raised in South Bend, Indiana.From his earliest youth his father instilled in him the great love of virgin nature and the American Indians that was to play a prominent part in his adult life. Fitzgerald's father also passed on his great respect for traditional Oriental cultures that arose during the time he spent as the commandant of a Marine garrison in Tientsin, China, in 1945-1946.

Fitzgerald’s love of the American Indians blossomed when he was Joseph Epes Brown’s graduate teaching assistant for three semesters for “Religious Traditions of the American Indians”.
Michael Fitzgerald with Thomas and Susie YellowtailMichael Fitzgerald with Thomas and Susie Yellowtail at their home in Wyola, Montana, summer 1971
When Brown departed for a teaching post in Montana in 1972, Fitzgerald replaced him and taught the course in the Indiana University Continuing Studies Department, at the Bloomington campus, for a period of two years. Brown introduced Fitzgerald to Benjamin Black Elk, son of the famous Lakota holy man, and Susie Yellowtail, who is now enshrined in the Montana Hall of Fame. Fitzgerald spent the summer of 1971 living with Thomas and Susie Yellowtail on the Crow Indian Reservation in Wyola, Montana, where he also participated in the tribal Sun Dance. Michael Fitzgerald was subsequently adopted into the Crow tribe.

In 1975 Thomas Yellowtail and his wife made the first of a series of annual October visits to the Fitzgerald home in Bloomington, Indiana. During some of those visits Fitzgerald recorded Yellowtail’s recounting of his life and the history and details of the Crow-Shoshone Sun Dance. These interviews were edited by Michael Fitzgerald and later published as Yellowtail: Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief and Native Spirit: The Sun Dance Way.

The Yellowtails were to provide the Fitzgeralds with introductions to many spiritual leaders of other American Indian tribes;
Grand Entry of the Whistling Waters clan at pow-wowGrand entry of the Whistling Waters clan of the Crow tribe at a pow-wow in Lodge Grass, MT, July 4, 1991. From left are Thomas Yellowtail, Joe Medicine Crow and Michael Fitzgerald.
thus Judith and Michael Fitzgerald have spent extended periods of time over a period of more than thirty-five years visiting traditional cultures and attending sacred ceremonies throughout the American West, including the sacred rites of the Crow, Sioux, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Bannock, and Apache Tribes. These contacts and experiences have led to the creation of a number of books and two documentary films on the American Indians over the last three decades. Well aware of the special access that they have been granted, the Fitzgeralds have also been very involved in giving back to the people through their participation in numerous activities to support the well-being and traditions of many tribes and their people.

Michael and Judith have also spent extensive periods of time in the last forty years travelling the world, visiting sacred places, and attending ceremonies of the world religions. It is through their travels that they gain inspiration for their books. In 2004 Michael Fitzgerald and his wife, Judith, a graduate of Indiana University and an artisan, calligrapher, and graphic designer, published the first in an award-winning series of illustrated inspirational books on the world’s religions, called “Sacred Worlds”, with titles such as Indian Spirit, The Spirit of Indian Women, Christian Spirit, The Sermon of All Creation, and The Universal Spirit of Islam. Many of the photographs in this series and in Fitzgerald’s other books were taken by him during their travels to visit traditional cultures around the world.

At home in Bloomington, they spend their time surrounded by their son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, who are at the root of their desire to produce quality books for children and teens.

Michael’s books include:

  • Yellowtail: Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief
  • Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience, author: Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), 2010
    • Winner in the “Multicultural Non-Fiction” category of The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards, sponsored by USA Book News
    • Winner of the ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Medal in the “Social Science” category; finalist in the “History” category
    • Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for “Multicultural”
    • 3 Gold Midwest Book Awards for: “Culture”, “Interior Layout”, and “Color Cover”
    • 2 Silver Midwest Book Awards for: “History” and “Total Book Design”
    • Finalist in two categories of The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards, sponsored by USA Book News:
      – “Best Interior Design” (designers: Susana Marin and Michael Fitzgerald)
      – “History: United States”
  • Christian Spirit, co-edited with Judith Fitzgerald, 2004.
    • Midwest Book Gold Award for: “Religion/Philosophy”
  • The Sermon of all Creation: Christians on Nature, co-edited with Judith Fitzgerald, 2005.
    • 2 Midwest Book Silver Awards for: “Nature” and “Religion/Philosophy”
  • The Spirit of Indian Women , co-edited with Judith Fitzgerald, 2005.
    • 2 Midwest Book Gold Awards for: “Multicultural” and “Religion/Philosophy”
  • The Universal Spirit of Islam: From the Koran and Hadith, co-edited with Judith Fitzgerald, 2006.
    • Midwest Book Silver Award for “Religion/Philosophy/Inspiration”
    • Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for “Religion”
    • ForeWord Book of the Year Award finalist for “Religion”
  • Indian Spirit: Revised & Enlarged, co-edited with Judith Fitzgerald, 2006.
    • 2 Midwest Book Gold Awards for: “Culture” and “Religion/Philosophy/Inspiration”
  • The Foundations of Christian Art: Illustrated, author: Titus Burckhardt, 2006.
    • Midwest Book Gold Award for “Interior Layout”
    • Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for “Arts”
  • Native Spirit: The Sun Dance Way, author: Thomas Yellowtail, recorded and edited by Michael Fitzgerald, 2007.
    • Midwest Book Gold Award for “Culture”
    • Midwest Book Silver Award for “Religion/Philosophy/Inspiration”
    • Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for “New Age/Metaphysics/Spirituality”
  • The Essential Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa): Light on the Indian World (revised & updated edition), author: Charles Eastman, 2007.
    • Silver Midwest Book Award for “Religion/Philosophy/Inspiration”
  • Foundations of Oriental Art & Symbolism, author: Titus Burckhardt, 2009
    • Midwest Book Silver Award for “Illustration”

ADDITIONAL BOOKS: The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian: Commemorative Edition With Letters While Living With Black Elk, author: Joseph Epes Brown, co-edited with Elenita Brown and Marina Brown Weatherly, 2007.

Mr. Fitzgerald has written and edited many publications on American Indian spirituality, including Yellowtail: Crow Medicine Man and Sun Dance Chief, first published in 1991 by the University of Oklahoma Press, which he recorded and edited (now in its fifth printing). About the book, the journal Choice wrote, it "describes in exquisite detail Yellowtail's philosophy.... It is a serious work of anthropology and history."

Another notable publication edited by Fitzgerald is Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience (2010) by Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa), which has won many awards and distinctions.

All royalties for Fitzgerald’s books and documentary films on American Indians are donated to various American Indian charities, including The American Indian College Fund, Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, for support of Crow, Shoshone and Lakota Sun Dances and to provide books and films to tribal colleges and high schools located on Indian reservations throughout the US and Canada.

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