N. Scott Momaday was the first Native American author to win a Pulitzer Prize, with his novel House Made of Dawn. He passed away on January 24th at age 89.
Momaday wrote novels, poetry, essays, and memoirs, and he incorporated his Kiowa heritage in his writing. He published House Made of Dawn in 1968, and it won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It follows an Indigenous veteran returning from war and struggling to adjust to life back in New Mexico.
In 2007, Momaday received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush. He also received quite a few other accolades in his writing life, including becoming Oklahoma Centennial Poet Laureate, being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, being given an an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and more.
On the themes he kept returning to in his writing, Momaday said,
“I’ve written several books, but to me they are all part of the same story. And I like to repeat myself, if you will, from book to book, in the way that Faulkner did — in an even more obvious way, perhaps. My purpose is to carry on what was begun a long time ago; there’s no end to it that I see.”