The Mystic Warriors of the Plains

A Californian painter, illustrator and writer, Thomas E. Mails (1920–2001) studied at the California College of Arts and Crafts and at the St. Paul’s Luther Theological Seminary and is best known for painting and illustrating artifacts of Indian culture. After college he spent nine years as an architectural designer before enrolling in the seminary in St. Paul (Minnesota), then becoming an ordained minister in 1958. While serving for eighteen years at three different congregations in Minnesota and California he came to appreciate the Indian way of life, the man’s relationship to creation that it entails and the symmetry and grace of Native American art and architecture. Mails wrote and illustrated several books on Native American history, the first book he worked on being titled ‘The Mystic Warrior of the Plains’ (Doubleday and Company, 1972) which became a standard reference book worldwide for those interested in the culture of the Plains Indians. With over one thousand illustrations and thirty-two four-color plates it offers an extraordinarily detailed view of the daily activities of the Sioux, Cheyenne, Pawnee, Nez Perce, Comanche and many others. MWP was also widely used by Kevin Costner as a resource text for his motion picture masterpiece ‘Dances with Wolves’ as the book covers social customs, personal qualities, types of weaponry, achievement marks, and the training of Indian boys.


The Mystic Warriors of the Plains is a comprehensive encyclopedia of Plains Indian lore that will delight and inform everyone interested in understanding the native peoples of the Plains. “Magnificently and accurately … conveys both the tragic ironies and splendors of the rich plains civilization.” — Newsweek

“Fascinating detail that gives a better idea of the plains people than mere description can do….” — Navajo Times