TAHLEQUAH – Oklahoma Centennial Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winning author N. Scott Momaday will do a poetry reading as a featured speaker at Northeastern State University’s 36th Annual Symposium on the American Indian on Friday, April 18 at 11 a.m. in the University Center Sen. Herb Rozell Ballroom.
Momaday was born in Lawton, the son of a painter father and a writer mother who worked as teachers on American Indian reservations while he was growing up. Momaday, who is of Kiowa and Cherokee descent, grew up exposed not only the Kiowa traditions of his father’s family, but to the Navajo, Apache and Pueblo cultures of the Southwest.
Momaday was encouraged to pursue his passion for words and his profound understanding of the human condition and the relationship between “man and landscape” was informed by his early years.
As a teenager, he lived at the Santa Fe Indian School while attending school in Santa Fe, with a German couple while attending St. Mary’s in Albuquerque, and then spent his senior year in military school in Virginia. Shortly after graduating from UNM, he entered Stanford University on a poetry fellowship to study under Yvor Winters and emerged with his Ph.D. in English and American literature.
He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969 for his first novel, “House Made of Dawn,” a story based on the lives of his ancestors.
Momaday’s greatest love is his first love-poetry. “…poets are the people who really are the most insightful among us. They stand in the best position to enlighten us, and encourage, and inspire us. What better thing could you be than a poet?”
Momaday has also followed in his father’s footsteps as an accomplished painter and printmaker with exhibits all over the country. His most recent book is “Three Plays,” published by the University of Oklahoma Press.
His personal initiatives include supporting the efforts of indigenous communities to preserve and perpetuate cultural identity.
The Oklahoma Poet Laureate is facilitated by the Oklahoma Humanities Council on behalf of the governor. N.Scott Momaday was appointed the Oklahoma Centennial Poet Laureate in 2007 by Gov. Brad Henry.
“The Sun the Moon the Stars, Rhythms of Life,” the 36th Annual Symposium on the American Indian is set for April 16-19, 2008 at NSU in the University Center.
Additional speakers include retired commander of the U.S. Navy and former NASA astronaut John Herrington, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Jerry Elliott, Kiowa traditionalist Kelly Anquoe, documentary filmmaker Sara Barnett-Flores, Navajo cultural consultant Dr. David Begay, Coordinator for the Pawnee Earth Lodge exhibit at the Field Museum of Chicago Mary Ann Bloom, award winning novelist and poet Robert Conley, Sioux traditionalist Warren Hawk, Assistant Site Manager and Public Relations Director for the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site William Iseminger, Founder and President of the Indigenous Education Institute Dr. Nancy Maryboy, Director of Indians into Psychology at the University of North Dakota Justin D. (Doug) McDonald, and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Kansas Dr. Akira Yamamoto.
For more information on the 36th annual Symposium on the American Indian, call the NSU Center for Tribal Studies at 918-444-4350. For a full schedule of events, visit www.cts.nsuok.edu/symposium/index.htm.