N. Scott Momaday (Navarre Scott Momaday) Biography
(1934– ), (Navarre Scott Momaday), House Made of Dawn, The Ancient Child, The Way to Rainy Mountain
Native American writer, born in Lawton, Oklahoma, of Kiowa Indian ancestry, educated at the University of New Mexico and at Stanford University, where he was taught by Yvor Winters. He has taught at several American universities. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his first published novel, House Made of Dawn (1969), about a young Native American unable to feel acceptance either in the white American world, or in that of his ancestral community; his second novel, The Ancient Child (1989), focuses on a Kiowa artist in San Francisco who was raised as an Anglo and, like the first novel, deals with questions of identity. His much admired retelling of Kiowan legends, The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969), explored, in relation to Momaday's own youth, his sense of their significance as part of the central American heritage. His other works include two books of poems, Angle of Geese (1973) and The Gourd Dancer (1976); a biographical memoir, The Names (1976); and In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems, 1961–1991 (1992). Momaday has played a major part in bringing the work of contemporary Native American writers to the notice of a wider public. His achievement is to have placed the Native American experience within the main frame of the contemporary American novel, especially in the context of narratives whose organizing principle is the search for social identity where ancestral ethnic values conflict with those of conventional society. See also ethnicity and Native American Literature.
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