Pulitzer Prize-winning Native American novelist, poet, playwright and painter N. Scott Momaday shares his Kiowa Indian perspective through his unique storytelling abilities Thursday, May 22 in the final Lawrence University convocation of the 2002-2003 series.
Momaday will speak at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel and conduct a question-and-answer session at 2 p.m. in Riverview Lounge of the Lawrence Memorial Union. Both events are free and open to the public.
Hailed as “the dean of American Indian writers” by the New York Times, Momaday’s first novel, “House Made of Dawn,” — a story of a young American Indian struggling to reconcile the traditional ways of his people with the demands of the 20th century — earned him the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
The son of a father who painted and a mother who wrote children’s books, both of whom also taught school on Indian reservations in Oklahoma and Arizona, Momaday was exposed to the Kiowa traditions of his father’s family as well as the Navajo, Apache and Pueblo Indian cultures of the Southwest.
Spanning nearly four decades, Momaday’s impressive body of creative work includes the novel “The Way to Rainy Mountain,” a collection of Kiowa tales illustrated by his father, Al Momaday; the children’s book “Circle of Wonder: A Native American Christmas Story”; four collections of poems; two stage plays, including “Children of the Sun,” which premiered at the Kennedy Center in 1997 and 1999’s “In the Bear’s House,” a mixed media collection of paintings, dialogue, poems and poetic prose that chronicles his personal quest to understand the spirit of the wilderness embodied in the bear, which holds spiritual significance among the Kiowa Indians.
In addition, he has written for The New York Review of Books, Natural History and American West, his paintings and drawings have been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad and he has served as a commentator on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
A graduate of the University of New Mexico and Stanford University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1963, Momaday in 1974 became the first professor to teach American literature at the University of Moscow. Since 1982, he has taught English and comparative literature at the University of Arizona, where he serves as Regents Professor of Humanities.
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, and serves as president of the American Indian Hall of Fame.
In 1971, Lawrence awarded Momaday an honorary Doctor of Literature degree, one of 12 honorary degrees he has received in his career.