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Deaths Elsewhere

James Welch, 62, whose novels about Native American life brought him international acclaim, died of a heart attack Monday at his home in Missoula, Mont. He had been ill with lung cancer since October.

The Montana-born American Indian author of seven books burst onto the literary scene in 1974 with the publication of his first novel, Winter in the Blood.

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Narrated by a young Indian who lives on a ranch on a reservation in north-central Montana, the book garnered a front-page review in The New York Times Book Review by novelist Reynolds Price, who called it a "nearly flawless novel about human life."

Other books included his 1971 poetry collection Riding in the Earthboy 40, dealing with Indian subjects, and the 1986 historical fiction work Fools Crow about a band of Blackfoot Indians in the Montana Territory of the 1870s.

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He turned to nonfiction with his 1994 book Killing Custer: The Battle of the Little Bighorn and the Fate of the Plains Indians, an account of the famous 1876 battle as seen from the Indian perspective.

His last book, The Heartsong of Charging Elk, was published in 2000. Loosely based on a true story, its protagonist is a young Oglala Sioux man who joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and remained in Marseilles, France, after being injured on his horse while touring with the show in Europe.

Mr. Welch, who was part Blackfeet and Gros Ventre Indian and Irish, spent his early years on the Black Feet Reservation in Browning. His great-grandfather on his father's side had played cornet in John Philip Sousa's band before becoming an Indian agent in Browning.

Encouraged to write poetry by a high school English teacher, Mr. Welch earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Montana in Missoula in 1964. He then studied under poet Richard Hugo in the university's master's program -- and soon realized he was in way over his head.

At one point, Mr. Hugo took him aside and said, "You don't know anything about poems, do you?"

"I sat for a moment trying to think up a defense for my story, but nothing came to me, so I said, 'No,'" Mr. Welch recalled. "To my surprise, Hugo said, 'That's OK. What do you know about?'"

Mr. Welch then told Mr. Hugo about his life growing up on the reservation, and Mr. Hugo told him to write about that.

Herman Schneider, 90, the author of more than 80 books, mostly on science for children, died yesterday in Boston.

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Many of Mr. Schneider's books were written with his wife, Nina, including How Big is Big? From Stars to Atoms, a Yardstick for the Universe; Let's Look Under the City: Water, Gas, Waste, Electricity, Telephone; and Science Fun With a Flashlight (McGraw, 1975).

Among the books he wrote by himself were Everyday Machines and How They Work and How Scientists Find Out.

He taught in the New York City school system for 20 years and then for five years was the system's science supervisor.

Barbara Brewster Bonner, 46, a veterinarian and turtle conservationist who founded the Turtle Hospital of New England Inc., died of undetermined causes Aug. 1 at her home in Upton, Mass.

In the past decade, she had been instrumental in developing protocols to save endangered species of turtles, and worked to bring attention to the plight of Asian turtles.

She studied microbiology at the University of Massachusetts, then attended Tufts University veterinary school, where she specialized in reptiles and amphibians.

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About five years ago, the plight of Asian turtles attracted her attention and she began breeding them at her home.


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