N. Scott Momaday


Navarro Scott Momaday (Mammedaty) was born in Lawton, Oklahoma at the Kiowa Comanche Hospital to a Kiowa father and mixed-ancestry (English, Irish, French, and Cherokee) mother. While he only spent the first year of his life on the Kiowa reservation and thus never learned to speak Kiowa, Momaday lived for extended periods of time on Navajo, San Carlos Apache, and Pueblo tribal lands due to his parents’ professions as teachers on Indian reservations. Momaday spent his childhood between tribal lands, learning and developing a strong multicultural understanding of American Indian cultures and tribal traditions. He also raced horses in New Mexico during his adolescence as a means of connecting to the horsemanship of his ancestors—and notes that he “rarely lost” races. In addition to their work as teachers, Momaday’s father was a painter and his mother was a writer of children’s literature. Both strong storytellers, his parents influenced Momaday’s early interest in literature and poetry. After earning his BA in political science from the University of New Mexico and teaching on the Apache reservation at Jicarilla, Momaday won a creative writing fellowship to study poetry at Stanford University. There he received his MA and PhD in English, in 1960 and 1963, before beginning an illustrious career as a professor, where he taught at Stanford, University of Arizona, and University of California, Berkeley, and has been a visiting professor at Columbia University, Princeton University, and in Moscow. In Moscow, Momaday began to follow his father’s footsteps and pursue drawing and painting; many of his poetry collections feature his own paintings and etchings, which are also exhibited throughout the United States. Momaday has been the recipient of various awards and honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for his first novel House Made of Dawn, the designation as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, 2007 Oklahoma Centennial State Poet Laureate, the Premio Letterario Internationale “Mondello” (Italy’s highest literary award), and the National Medal of Arts, awarded by President George W. Bush in 2007. He also holds 21 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities, including Yale University, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Wisconsin. Momaday was the subject of a 2017 documentary, N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear, which aired on PBS and drew its name from Momaday’s longstanding identification with the bear as a totem in his life. He is currently the Regents Professor of the Humanities at the University of Arizona and a member of the Kiowa Gourd Clan, the ancient fraternal organization of the Kiowas.

A Simile

What did we say to each other

that now we are as the deer

who walk in single file

with heads high

with ears forward

with eyes watchful

with hooves always placed on firm ground

in whose limbs there is latent flight





Literary Movements:

Native American Renaissance

Anthology Years:




Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”