Kiowa N. Scott Momaday, a giant of Native American literature, dead at 89


Category:  News & Politics

By:  kavika  •  4 weeks ago  •  6 comments

Kiowa N. Scott Momaday, a giant of Native American literature, dead at 89

Joaqlin Estus

Navarre Scott Momaday, Kiowa, a writer, poet, educator and master storyteller, has died. His Pulitzer Prize winning debut novel “House Made of Dawn” is credited with the start of a renaissance in contemporary Native American literature. He was 89.   Momaday   died Wednesday at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, publisher HarperCollins announced. He had been in failing health.

On Facebook, friends and organizations shared condolences and remembrances lamenting the loss of a “beloved member of our community and an inspiration to all,” and, “a giant of Native American literature.”

Vice chairman of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma Joseph Tsotigh said, “The Cáuigú and the world have lost one of the most eloquent voices of our generation! It’s with deep sadness that I acknowledge the passing of a magnificent, talented and irrepressible author, poet, and raconteur Dr. N. Scott Momaday. The world will never know another like him. Hegau ém âuibòñ:[dàu”.

Iñupiaq author and poet Joan Kane, a visiting associate professor at Reed College, recalls encountering Momaday’s writing during her first year as a student at Harvard College. “How late and accidentally to come to the work of one of the most influential of American writers! Without Momaday's many contributions to academia as well as literature, it's hard to imagine the increasing representation of exemplary Indigenous scholarship and creative works we've seen especially in the last decade.”

She also recalls the first time she met Momaday in person, when he spoke at a large, informal social gathering of tribal librarians, archivists, museum staff and journalists. There, she said, he listened as much as he spoke. Kane said she saw “in his comport, that it's just as important to be present to each other as Native people through our serious efforts as it is to connect with humor, approachability and ease.”

“Scott was an extraordinary person and an extraordinary poet and writer. He was a singular voice in American literature, and it was an honor and a privilege to work with him,” Momaday’s editor, Jennifer Civiletto, said in a statement. “His Kiowa heritage was deeply meaningful to him and he devoted much of his life to celebrating and preserving Native American culture, especially the oral tradition.”

“House Made of Dawn,” published in 1968, tells of a World War II soldier who returns home and struggles to fit back in, a story as old as war itself; in this case, home is a Native community in rural New Mexico. Much of the book was based on Momaday’s childhood in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, and on his conflicts between the ways of his ancestors and the risks and possibilities of the outside world.

LINK TO SEEDED ARTICLE: https://ictnews.org/news/kiowa-n-scott-momaday-a-giant-of-native-american-literature-dead-at-89

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Professor Principal
1  author  Kavika     4 weeks ago

I remember reading his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, ''The House Made of Dawn''. After I had returned from Vietnam, both experiences were overwhelming. 

Later in life I attended one of Mr. Monaday's lectures at Stanford University in the 1980s. It wasn't so much a lecture but a gathering of friends sitting around, relaxed and casual and with Mr. Monaday's humor as a guide we discussed how an American Indian lives in two worlds his/her world of indigenous with the language, culture and history on one side and the white world of today in American and how to survive or better yet thrive in both without losing your identity.

May your ancestors guide you on the path of souls.

Professor Principal
2  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

Here is a short excerpt from 

''The House Made of Dawn''

...Angela thought of Abel, of the way he had looked at her— like a wooden Indian—his face cold and expressionless. A few days before she had seen the corn dance at Cochiti. It was beautiful and strange. It had seemed to her that the dancers meant to dance forever in that slow, deliberate way. There was something so grave and mysterious in it, those old men chanting in the sun, and the dancers so ... so terribly serious in what they were doing. No one of them ever smiled. Somehow that seemed important to her just now. The dancers had looked straight ahead, to the exclusion of everything, but she had not thought about that at the time. And they had not smiled. They were grave, so unspeakably grave. They were not merely sad or formal or devout; it was nothing like that. It was simply that they were grave, distant, intent upon something that she could not see.

Their eyes were held upon some vision out of range, something away in the end of distance, some reality that she did not know, or even suspect. What was it that they saw? Probably they saw nothing after all, nothing at all. But then that was the trick, wasn’t it? To see nothing at all, nothing in the absolute. To see beyond the landscape, be yond every shape and shadow and color, that was to see nothing. That was to be free and finished, complete, spiritual. To see nothing slowly and by degrees, at last; to see first the pure, bright colors of near things, then all pollutions of color, all things blended and vague and dim in the distance, to see finally beyond the clouds and the pale wash of the sky—the none and nothing beyond that. To say “beyond the mountain,” and to mean it, to mean, simply, beyond everything for which the mountain stands, of which it signifies the being. Somewhere, if only she could see it, there was neither nothing nor anything. And there, just there, that was the last reality. 

Professor Principal
2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  JohnRussell @2    4 weeks ago

Beautiful writing. 

Professor Principal
2.1.1  author  Kavika   replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    4 weeks ago
Beautiful writing. 

A man many of many talents and an inner understanding and beauty, JR.

In the book, House Made of Dawn, Angela is a white woman trying to understand the indigeous mind and culture. A remarkable book and the characters were mesmerizing. 

Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3  Perrie Halpern R.A.    4 weeks ago

What a huge loss. He was so talented. I loved House Made of Dawn. Thought it was so insightful. 

Professor Principal
3.1  author  Kavika   replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3    4 weeks ago
What a huge loss.

One of a kind, he will be missed.


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