© 2020 by David Weiden. Proudly created with WIX.COM


Children’s book--


Spotted Tail.  Early reader on the life of the great Sicangu Lakota leader, forthcoming in 2019 from Benchmark Publishing.



Short Stories--


“Spork.”  Transmotion.  2016


“Sourtoe.”  Tribal College Journal.  2014 (winner of the Tribal College Journal fiction contest)


“Winter Counts.”  Yellow Medicine Review.  2014


“Saltines.”  Criminal Class Review.  2012


“Apollo.”  Foundling Review.  2010


Frequently Asked Questions

Are you from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota? 

No, I was raised in Denver, Colorado, in the Swansea/Elyria neighborhood, which has been noted as one of the most polluted and impoverished areas in the United States, and later in the suburb of Aurora.  Because my mother was raised on the Rosebud Reservation, I spent a great deal of time there growing up, and I own three pieces of land there now, although that land is held in trust by the federal government (as is most Native land).  I return there frequently to visit family and take part in Native spiritual ceremonies. 

What does your name mean? 

My legal name is David L. Weiden, and much of my scholarly work is published under this name.  Heska Wanbli is my Lakota spirit name, given to me at ceremony.  It means, roughly translated, “mountain eagle.” 

How do you pronounce your name and nation?

Weiden is pronounced “Why-den.” 

Heska Wanbli is pronounced “HEH-ska Wahn-blee,” although in Lakota, the HEH is pronounced in a raspy way, somewhere between an English K and English H.

Sicangu Lakota is pronounced “See-CHON-goo La-COAT-a.”

Did you grow up in a wealthy or well-educated family?  

Hardly!  I’m the first one in my family to graduate from college, much less graduate school.  As for being wealthy, I grew up in one of the poorest communities in Denver in a house about 700 square feet in size.  However, both of my parents were voracious readers, and they instilled a deep love of literature in me, as well as an appreciation for learning.  I had to work full-time throughout high school, college and grad school, and I’ve had jobs as a dishwasher, busboy, waiter, roofer, construction worker, telephone salesperson, and magic store clerk, as well as lawyer and professor.  I admit that I did love being a waiter and bartender, and still think about picking up a few shifts over at the local dive bar. 


Are you involved in the Colorado Native American community? 

Yes.  As the director of the Native American Studies program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, I’ve taught and mentored many Native students.  I also served on the Board of Directors of the Denver Indian Family Resource Center for a number of years, providing legal and policy assistance for Native foster and adoptive children.  I also help Native youth in South Dakota by providing free books and school visits, and also participate in the One Spirit program to help needy families on the Pine Ridge reservation.  Finally, I'm delighted to serve as a mentor for emerging indigenous writers through the AWP Writer to Writer mentorship program.

Fiction and Creative Nonfiction


Winter Counts.  Forthcoming from Ecco/HarperCollins, August 2020.

Pre-orders available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and IndieBound.

Wounded Horse.  Forthcoming from Ecco/Harper Collins. 

Both novels will be published in France by Gallmeister Editions. 





WINTER COUNTS.  An addictive and groundbreaking debut thriller set on a Native American reservation.

Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s own nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and make them stop.


They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances.  And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the 21st century comes at an incredible cost.


Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling.

"David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s Winter Counts is the best kind of thriller, one that balances intense pacing with fully-fleshed characters that are so well-drawn they jump off the page. The novel’s deep dive into Native American culture and the themes of identity and justice ensure it’ll stay with you long after you read the last page." --Jess Lourey, CrimeReads

"A great mystery with excellent characters–everything you want in a crime novel!"  --Book Riot Unusual Suspects

"Winter Counts is a gripping, richly textured thriller and an urgent dispatch from Indian Country. Crimes are solved, violence happens, and Virgil Wounded Horse, a hard-fisted, big-hearted, irresistible Lakota enforcer, guides us through the complicated realities of contemporary Native life on and off the reservation. Weiden writes with impressive authority and insight in this entirely original, enlightening, cliché-destroying novel."  --James A. McLaughlin, author of the Edgar Award-winning Bearskin

"With this unique, cogent debut, David Heska Wanbli Weiden announces himself as a formidable new voice in crime fiction. The images haunt, the action crackles, and Virgil Wounded Horse makes a lasting impression as he knuckles his way through a heroin ring that threatens life as he knows it on his South Dakota reservation. Winter Counts is a heartfelt page-turner with compelling characters, keen cultural insight, and a climax unlike any I've read before."  --Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay, Dead Soon Enough, Beware Beware, and Follow Her Home

Children’s book

Spotted Tail.  Early reader on the life of the great Sicangu Lakota leader, available from Reycraft Books.  Winner of the 2020 Spur Award by the Western Writers of America; named as one of the best books of 2019 by American Indians in Children's Literature and also by Bank Street Children's Book Committee; and selected as a finalist for the 2020 Colorado Book Awards for Juvenile Literature.








"This biography of Spotted Tail traces the life of the famous Lakota leader who expertly guided his people through a pivotal and tumultuous time in their nation's history as they fought and then negotiated with the U.S. government. Spotted Tail is remembered for his unique leadership style and deep love for his people. Today a university is named in his honor."  This early reader is appropriate for children in grades 2-5, and those interested in the life of this great Native leader.  Available from Amazon and local bookstores

Publishers Weekly says, "Throughout this detailed biography of Spotted Tail (1823–1881), debut author Weiden links conflicts from the Lakota warrior and mediator’s time to the present day. . . . Mixed-media artwork combines crisp photographs of Native land with art by Yellowhawk, including portraits and battle scenes done in the style of earlier Native art, painted on leaves from white settlers’ accounting ledgers."

American Indians in Children's Literature says, "Weiden shows how his subject's perspective changed with his experiences, from young Lakota fighter to prisoner of the US government to caring father to negotiator for his people. . . . A real strength of the book is the way Weiden connects certain aspects of Spotted Tail's life with ongoing issues for Native people -- such as the Lakota people's efforts to keep/recover the Black Hills. The long-lasting legal and political implications are simply but clearly explained."

Creative nonfiction

"Carlisle Longings."  Shenandoah.  Fall 2019.  Longlisted for the 2018 PRISM International Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Short stories

Spork.”  Transmotion.  2016

“Sourtoe.”  Tribal College Journal.  2014.  Winner of the Tribal College Journal fiction contest.

“Winter Counts.”  Yellow Medicine Review.  2014

“Saltines.”  Criminal Class Review.  2012

“Apollo.”  Foundling Review.  2010



You can reach David at:   dweiden (at) hotmail (dot) com

Literary representation by Michelle Brower of Aevitas Creative Management

mbrower (at) aevitascreative (dot) com

Publicity requests:  Sonya Cheuse, sonya.cheuse (at) harpercollins (dot) com

Film and television representation by Kristina Moore and Ryan Wilson of Anonymous Content.

kmoore (at) anonymouscontent (dot) com; rwilson (at) anonymouscontent (dot) com

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