Legendary Native American Novelist N. Scott Momaday’s Life and Legacy

Take a moment with us to remember the revolutionary writer and Pulitzer Prize winner.
Photo Courtesy: The School for Advanced Research



N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa) was born in the late spring of 1934 in Lawton, Oklahoma. He was born with art in his veins; his mother was a writer, and his father was a painter. His childhood included exposure to many other native cultures while he lived in Arizona, including Navajo, Apache, and Pueblo. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of New Mexico, he went on to receive his Ph.D. at Stanford University. 

House Made of Dawn (1969), Momaday’s second publication, earned the Pulitzer Prize, paving the way for Native American literature to make its way into the American mainstream. The publication was the first novel of the Native American Renaissance and remains a classic of Native American literature. After his recognition for his novel, he moved on to the world of poetry. His poem Angle of Geese is often regarded as his best work. 

Momaday was a professor for several prestigious universities across the states, as well as the first professor to teach American literature in Moscow, Russia, at Moscow State University. 

He also taught creative writing and produced a new curriculum based on American Indian literature and mythology. 

Later in life, Momaday went on to become the founder of the Rainy Mountain Foundation and Buffalo Trust, nonprofit organizations that preserve Native American cultures. He also utilized his creative skills to design and illustrate the book In the Bear’s House. 

N. Scott Momaday lived a full and profound life that paved the way for Native American and Indigenous artists in this country and across the globe. He passed away in his Santa Fe home on Wednesday, January 24, 2024. 

For a complete list of his publications, click this link for the titles in order.