A 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.
Michael 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.
Michael 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
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:
- 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
in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience, author: Charles Eastman (Ohiyesa),
- 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”
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
- 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,
- 2 Midwest Book Gold Awards for: “Culture” and “Religion/Philosophy/Inspiration”
The Foundations of Christian Art: Illustrated, author: Titus Burckhardt,
- 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
- Midwest Book Gold Award for “Culture”
- Midwest Book Silver Award for “Religion/Philosophy/Inspiration”
- Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for “New Age/Metaphysics/Spirituality”
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,
- Midwest Book Silver Award for “Illustration”
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.