Kiowa Tribe

2018 – Writing,

Navarre Scott Momaday is a Kiowa novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. His mother was a writer and his father a painter. In 1935, when N. Scott Momaday was one year old, his family moved to Arizona, where both his father and mother became teachers on the reservation. Growing up in Arizona allowed Momaday to experience not only his father’s Kiowa traditions but also those of other southwest Native Americans including the Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo traditions. Momaday attended the University of New Mexico, graduating in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He continued his education at Stanford University where, in 1963, he was awarded a Ph.D. in English Literature.

In 1963, Momaday began teaching at the University of California-Santa Barbara as an assistant professor of English. From 1966-1967, he focused primarily on literary research, leading him to pursue the Guggenheim Fellowship at Harvard University. Two years later, in 1969, Momaday was named Professor of English at the University of California-Berkeley. Momaday taught creative writing, and produced a new curriculum based on American Indian literature and mythology.

His novel, House Made of Dawn, led to the breakthrough of Native American literature into the American mainstream after the novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969. House Made of Dawn was said to be the first novel of the “Native American Renaissance,” a term coined by literary critic Kenneth Lincoln. 

In 2007, Momaday returned to live in Oklahoma for the first time since his childhood. Governor Brad Henry appointed him as the sixteenth Oklahoma Poet Laureate. 

Momaday was tenured at Stanford University, the University of Arizona, the University of California-Berkeley, and the University of California-Santa Barbara. Momaday has been a visiting professor at places such as Columbia and Princeton, while also being the first professor to teach American Literature in Moscow, Russia at Moscow State University. 

He was a Visiting Professor at the University of New Mexico during the 2014-15 academic year to teach in the Creative Writing and American Literary Studies Programs in the Department of English. Specializing in poetry and the Native oral tradition, he taught The Native American Oral Tradition.