N. Scott Momaday is a poet, a Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, a playwright, a painter, a storyteller, and a professor of English and American literature. He is a Native American (Kiowa), and among his chief interests are Native American art and oral tradition. He has received numerous other awards, including, in addition to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, the Premio Letterario Internazionale "Mondello," Italy's highest literary award. The Saint Louis Literary Award, the Premio Fronterizo, the highest award of the Border Book Festival, and the 2003 Humanities Award from the Autry Center for the American West. UNESCO named him an Artist for Peace in 2003, the first American to be so honored since the United States rejoined UNESCO. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and holds 15 honorary degrees from colleges and universities, including Yale University, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa in his home state of Oklahoma, Blaise Pascal University (France) and his alma mater, the University of New Mexico.
Momaday was born in Lawton, Oklahoma and was raised in the Indian Country in Oklahoma and the Southwest, where his parents, artist Al Momaday and writer Natachee Scott Momaday, were teachers employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He graduated from the University of New Mexico (BA 1958) and Stanford University (MA 1960, Ph.D. 1963). He has held tenured appointments at the University of California-Santa Barbara, the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and retired as Regents Professor at the University of Arizona. He was the first professor to teach American literature at the University of Moscow in Russia (1974), and the inaugural University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Northern Momentum Teacher / Scholarin 2001. He presently is a Senior Scholar at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
His books have been translated into French, German , Italian, Russian, Swedish, Japanese, and Spanish and include The Complete Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (Oxford University Press), House Made of Dawn (Harper & Row), The Way to Rainy Mountain (University of New Mexico Press), Angle of Geese (David R. Godine), The Gourd Dancer (Harper & Row), The Names (Harper & Row), The Ancient Child (Doubleday), In the Presence of the Sun (St. Martin's Press), The Man Made of Words ( St. Martin's Press) In The Bear's House(St. Martin's Press), Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story (University of New Mexico Press) and Les Enfants du Soleil (Le Seuil, Paris). His play, The Indolent Boys, was given its world premiere at the Syracuse Stage in 1994, and his children's play, Children of the Sun, opened at the Kennedy Center in 1997. A collection of his plays, entitled Three Plays, was published in 2007. Belonging with the best of Momaday's classic writing, these plays preserve the mythic and cultural tradition of unique tribal communities in the face of an increasingly homogeneous society. Momaday has several forthcoming projects in progress including a new children’s book, a memoir and also a book of photographs refelcting 30 years of travel in the former Soviet Union as well as his work with indigenous people around the world. His essays and articles have appeared in Natural History, American West, The New York Review of Books, New York Newsday, The New York Times, and other periodicals, and most recently in Lewis and Clark Through Native Eyes (Knopf, Alvin Josephy, ed.) In May 2011 he will release a new collection of poetry, Again the Far Morning: New and Selected Poems.
His paintings, drawings, and prints have been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. A one-man 20 year retrospective was mounted at the Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe, in 1992-1993. Most recently Jacobson House at the University of Oklahoma presented a retrospective of his work and selections from his parents' work in May 2006.
Momaday has been a commentator of National Public Radio, the voice of the National Museum of the American Indian of the Smithsonian Institution, the narrator of the PBS documentaries including Remembered Earth and Last Stand at Little Bighorn, and a featured on-camera commentator on the PBS series The West, produced by Ken Burns and directed by Stephen Ives. He has lectured and given readings in many countries of the world. He presided over and was the keynote speaker for UNESCO's International Symposium on Indigenous Identities in 2001, and participated in Brainstorm 2001, 2002, and 2003, the Fortune Editors' Invitational (Fortune Magazine and the Aspen Institute).
Momaday sits on the boards of St. John's College, and is a founding member of the Stewardship Council of the Autry Center for the American West. He is the founder and chairman of The Buffalo Trust, a non-profit foundation for the preservation and restoration of Native American culture and heritage, with projects in the American Southwest, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Siberia. The Trust promotes the sharing of story, song, art and history in Native communities. Above all, it provides young Native Americans with opportunities to experience and lay claim to their inheritance, to define themselves in terms of their collective and individual cultural identity. He has been actively involved in partnership projects with indigenous peoples in Siberia since his Fulbright professorship in 1974, and with UNESCO in the United States, Europe and Siberia since 2003.