Robert J. Conley was born in 1940 in Cushing Oklahoma. He is a Cherokee author and enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally recognized tribe of American Indians. He is noted for depictions of precontact and historical Cherokee figures. He is known for a series of books called the Real People Series. The sixth of the series, The Dark Island (1996) won the Spur Award for best Western novel in 1995. He has also won two other Spur Awards, in 1988 for the short story "Yellow Bird", and in 1992 for the novel Nickajack. In 2007, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.