The Experiential World of D'Arcy McNickle


The Experiential World of D’Arcy McNickle has been made possible through an Undergraduate Research Consultant Team grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Building on Professor Dan Cobb’s ongoing research, we have adopted innovative research methods and ways of approaching biography to seek new ways of imagining and representing the experiential world of D’Arcy McNickle (1904-1977), a citizen of the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation in Montana and one of the twentieth century’s most influential American Indian writers, intellectuals, and activists.

At the heart of our project is D’Arcy McNickle’s diary, which is housed in The Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois and where Professor Cobb served as the Assistant Director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies from 2003 to 2004.

After transcribing, deconstructing, and contextualizing a large portion of McNickle’s diary, we decided to represent the insights we gained through three modes: this website, a co-authored essay for submission to a peer-reviewed scholarly journal (currently in progress), and The D’Arcy McNickle Interpretive Garden, a temporary exhibit created in partnership with the Carolina Community Garden at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The pages associated with this website invite you to imagine the diary as a window into the experiential world and remarkable life of an Indigenous person who, in entry upon entry, literally and figuratively wrote his “self” and sense of belonging into a world radically transformed by settler colonialism. In so doing, his diary serves as testimony to Indigenous creativity, brilliance, and resilience.

The members of the URCT, Mackenzie Collura-Repp, Samara Perez Labra, Gabrielle Walton, Grace Yannotta, and Professor Dan Cobb thank Claire Lorch, Joanna Massey Lelkacs, Boots Quimby, and everyone at the Carolina Community Garden, North Carolina Botanical Garden, and Office of Undergraduate Research for their support!