Michael Fitzgerald Author Biography

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Home > Children's Authors > Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald
Photo of Michael Fitzgerald

Michael Fitzgerald is an award-winning author and editor of books on religions from around the world. Michael’s father, Maurice, was a gifted storyteller and instilled in the young Fitzgerald a deep love of reading, which he carried throughout his life. Based in the picturesque woodlands of southern Indiana, he has written and edited more than a dozen books, and has won more than two dozen prestigious awards including the Foreword Book of the Year Award, the Ben Franklin Award and The USA "Best Books 2011" Awards. Michael’s most recent book is a collection of quotes and photographs about the lives of Plains Indian children, titled Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days.

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 is an acknowledged authority on the Native American history and culture, and he is the adopted son of the late Thomas Yellowtail, one of the most honored American Indian leaders of the twentieth century.

Well known for his teen and adult books on the American Indians and inspirational quote books, A King James Christmas is his first children’s book. About this, he wrote:

Photo of Michael Fitzgerald as a child, on a ponyA happy Michael Fitzgerald, as a child, on a pony
“Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories are of the time after Christmas Eve dinner when our family would gather together to listen as my parents, aunts, and uncles would each in turn read from a series of Gospel passages about the birth and childhood of Jesus Christ. It is not clear to me at what point I understood the meaning of each of the words; however, the annual narration, including our family discussions, left a powerful impression on me as a young child and each year I gained a better understanding—a learning process that continues to this day. The idea for this Christmas reader came as I was reflecting on these memories shortly after the birth of my first grandchild: I realized that we would soon be introducing another generation into our family tradition.”

Born in Indianapolis and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Michael developed his love of traditional Oriental cultures through his father who had developed great respect for foreign cultures during the time he had spent as the commandant of a Marine garrison in Tientsin, China, in 1945-1946. Michael writes about American Indians because he has had a love of the American Indians since he was a small child. In his childhood, he and his brother dressed up in American Indian costumes and read many books about Indians, in particular those of Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa). His father, who was an outdoorsman, was his inspiration. On many weekends he took Michael and his brother to Michigan, where they fished and played in the wilderness and stayed in primitive cabins.

photo of Michael Fitzgerald on a fast horseMichael Fitzgerald, out West, letting his
fast horse run!
When the family was camping his father would tell his two boys bedtime stories about adventures of a mythical trapper called “Trapper Dan” and his Indian friends. Michael’s father had tremendous respect and admiration for James Fenimore Cooper, Ernest Thompson Seton, and James Willard Schultz.

During his time at Indiana University, Michael increased his interest for all things American Indian. He was the graduate teaching assistant to Joseph Epes Brown (author of The Sacred Pipe and The Spiritual Legacy of the American Indian), and Michael subsequently taught “Religious Traditions of the North American Indian” at the University. It was through Brown that Michael was introduced to Yellowtail and other old-timers amongst different American Indian tribes.

The “Grand Entry” at a pow-wow in Montana, 1991. From left are Thomas Yellowtail, Joe Medicine Crow and Michael Fitzgerald.
Michael became close friends with the Browns and moved next door to Brown’s family in Unionville, Indiana. Around 1970 he lived in a tipi for part of the year. During the summer of 1971, he lived with Susie and Thomas Yellowtail in the Yellowtail home on the Crow reservation in Montana. Every year since then, Michael and his wife, award-winning editor and designer, Judith, have visited their Indian friends in the American West, and have only missed the trip in 1977, the year their son was born. Each year they still spend several weeks camping and seeing old friends and attending and supporting sacred ceremonies of the Plains tribes.

Michael and Judith have also spent extensive periods of time in the last forty years traveling the world, visiting sacred places, and attending ceremonies of the world religions. It is through their travels that they gain inspiration for their books. At home in Bloomington, they spend their time surrounded by their children and grandchildren, who are at the root of their desire to produce quality books for children and teens.

alt textMichael Fitzgerald (left) with Thomas and Suzie Yellowtail at the Yellowtail home in Wyola, Montana, Summer 1971
The Fitzgeralds are involved with a number of American Indian charities and non-profit groups. All royalties from their books on the American Indians are being donated to various native charities that include The Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, The American Indian College Fund, the purchase of books for schools on reservations, and the direct support of sacred tribal ceremonies. Michael Fitzgerald is the current director of the Trehero-Trosper Sun Dance, Inc, a Wyoming not-for-profit organization for the benefit of preserving and perpetuating sacred aspects of the Shoshone culture and traditions. He has also contributed to the Lakota Language Consortium which seeks to revitalize the Lakota language.

The Fitzgerald family is dedicated to giving back to their community and supporting educational and cultural initiatives for children and adults. They established the “Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science” at Wonderlab (Bloomington’s Children’s Museum). They are also long-time supporters of the Lotus Education and Arts Foundation and Michael is the founding contributor of the “Lotus – Fitzgerald Endowment” for world music and education. Sunrise Greetings was a Presenting Sponsor of the annual Lotus Festival during the time it was owned by Fitzgerald. Deer Park Management is the lifetime Presenting Sponsor of the “Summer Night of Lotus” program.

Michael’s books include:

  • Spirit of the Earth: Indian Voices on Nature (edited by Michael O. Fitzgerald and Joseph A. Fitzgerald):
    • Silver Medal in the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the category “Body, Mind & Spirit”
    • Finalist in the 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in the category “Nature”
    • Gold Medal in the 2018 Midwest Book Awards in the category “Religion/Philosophy/Spirituality”
    • Silver Medal in the 2017 Benjamin Frankin Awards in the category “Gift Book”
  • Indian Boyhood: The True Story of a Sioux Upbringing (written by Charles Eastman, edited by Michael O. Fitzgerald, and illustrated by Heidi M. Rasch):
    • Winner in the “Children’s Picture Book: Hardcover Non-Fiction” category of the 2016 USA “Best Book” Awards
    • Silver Medal in the “Children’s Picture Books” category of the 2016 Midwest Book Awards
    • Finalist in the 2016 Reading the West Awards (by MPIBA) for the “Children’s” category
  • Children of the Tipi: Life in the Buffalo Days
    • Gold Medal in the 2014 Benjamin Frankin Awards in the category “Interior Design (3 or more Color; Children’s/Young Adult)”
    • Winner of the 2013 Midwest Book Award Gold Medal in the category “Interior Layout”
    • Winner of the 2013 Midwest Book Award Silver Medal in the category “Children’s Non-Fiction”
    • Winner of the 2013 Midwest Book Award Silver Medal in the category “Total Book Design”
    • Finalist for 2013 Foreword Review “Book of the Year” Award in the category “Juvenile Nonfiction”
    • Honor Award in the 2015 Skipping Stones Honor Awards, in the category “Multicultural & International Books”
  • 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.

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