Frederick Manfred, or Feike Feikema ’34 (1912–1994), has been on my mind again recently. Last year, when the advertising campaign geared up to prepare us for the release of The Revenant, it was clear that the story of the mountain man Hugh Glass was coming at us once again, just as it had in 1971, with Man in the Wilderness, and that this new movie, just like the previous one, is not based on Lord Grizzly, Fred Manfred’s version of the Hugh Glass story published in 1954.

Those who are familiar with Manfred and the homeland he lived in and wrote about will not need to search hard or long to find that many Siouxland discussions of The Revenant note this lack of attention given to Manfred’s most popular novel, a novel that was nominated for a National Book Award in 1955 (it lost to Fable, by William Falkner). Significantly, Manfred’s book ends with forgiveness rather then revenge.

I recommend the movie to Spark readers anyway, for the cinematography and for Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting, but those who’ve read the book or seen trailers for The Revenant should keep in mind that this is a violent and bloody story—the faint of heart should wait for a kinder, gentler telling.


Last month a postcard appeared in Professor Karen Saupe’s mailbox, a postcard originally sent on Sept. 24, 1952, by Manfred to the editor of Chimes, alerting the Chimes staff to the new version of his name—it was now legally Frederick Feikema Manfred, and Fred wanted to be sure that he would not miss an issue of the Chimes simply because of postal service confusion related to his name change. How that postcard arrived at Karen Saupe’s mailbox 64 years after it was mailed is worth telling, too, but that may have to wait for another day.