N. Scott Momaday

1934 –

Navarro Scott Mammedaty, a Kiowa Indian, was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, on February 27, 1934, and grew up in close contact with the Navajo and San Carlos Apache communities. He received his BA in political science in 1958 from the University of New Mexico. At Stanford University he received his MA and PhD in English, in 1960 and 1963, respectively.

Momaday’s books of poetry include In the Bear’s House (St. Martin’s Press, 1999); In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961–1991 (University of New Mexico Press, 1992); and The Gourd Dancer (HarperCollins, 1976). His first novel, House Made of Dawn (New American Library, 1969) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Momaday is author of several other novels and prose collections, as well as the children’s book Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story (Clear Light Publishers, 1994) and the collection of plays Three Plays: The Indolent Boys, Children of the Sun, and The Moon in Two Windows (University of Oklahoma, 2007). He is also the editor of various anthologies and collections.

Momaday’s honors include the 2019 Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, bestowed by the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation to celebrate lifetime achievement in literature and to remind the world “that peace can be forged with words.” He has also received the 2019 Ken Burns American Heritage Prize, the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, an Academy of American Poets Prize, an award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the Premio Letterario Internationale “Mondello,” Italy’s highest literary award. Momaday is also a recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship. He holds twenty-one honorary degrees from American colleges and universities, including Yale, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Wisconsin.

Momaday was a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, and sits on the boards of First Nations Development Institute and the School of American Research. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Momaday has been a tenured professor at the Stanford, the University of Arizona, and the University of California, Berkeley. He has also been a visiting professor at Columbia and Princeton universities, and in Moscow. In his later years, Momaday was the Regents Professor of the Humanities at the University of Arizona.

M. Scott Momaday died on January 24, 2024, in Santa Fe.