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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   



14. Becoming Visible

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- James Baldwin
- Saul Bellow
- Gwendolyn Brooks
- Ralph Ellison
- Bernard Malamud
- Paule Marshall
- Arthur Miller
- N. Scott Momaday
- Grace Paley
- Philip Roth
- Suggested
Author
Pairings
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: N. Scott Momaday (b. 1934)

N. Scott Momaday Portrait
[5972] Nancy Crampton, N. Scott Momaday Portrait (n.d.), courtesy of Nancy Crampton.

N. Scott Momaday Activities
This link leads to artifacts, teaching tips and discussion questions for this author.
Writer, teacher, artist, and storyteller, Navarre Scott Momaday has spent his life preserving the oral traditions and culture of Native American peoples. As the only child of Al Momaday (Kiowa) and Natchee Scott (part Cherokee), he grew up on Navajo and Apache reservations in Arizona and New Mexico, though he continued to visit his Kiowa family in Oklahoma. His parents, who were artists as well as teachers, taught in a small school in New Mexico's Rio Grande Valley, and he attended a variety of schools, including reservation, mission, and military, with classmates of not only Pueblo, Navajo, and Apache descent but Hispanic and Anglo as well. After earning his B.A. at the University of New Mexico in political science, he went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Stanford under the guidance of poet and critic Yvor Winters. In addition to visiting professorships at institutions such as Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of Moscow, Momaday holds honorary degrees from a variety of American universities, including Yale. Well-schooled in canonical American literary traditions as well as Native American narratives, he writes as a member of many worlds, and sometimes as an exile from them all, as he tackles the effects of a post-World War II materialistic culture on his people.

Momaday uses Native American oral and European American poetic traditions, oral and written history, autobiography, and legend to create a rich panorama of Native American life. His first major work, House Made of Dawn (1968), is about a Native American who cannot reconcile his Pueblo heritage with city life. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel heralded the beginning of what many scholars refer to as "the Native American Renaissance." Other works by Momaday include The Ancient Child (1989), a novel about a San Francisco artist struggling with his Kiowan identity; three volumes of poetry; three autobiographical works, which include The Journey to Tai-me (1967) and The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969); a collection of essays, The Man Made of Words (1997); and various pieces of literary criticism and works on Native American culture.



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