(OKLAHOMA CITY, JANUARY 31, 2023) --- The National Native American Hall of Fame honors the life and legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), a giant in Native American literature and poetry and an inductee into the Hall's inaugural 2018 class.
"The National Native American Hall of Fame celebrates Scott Momaday's literary voice, his groundbreaking contributions, his commitment to telling the stories of Indigenous people, and his lifetime of artistic achievement as he ascends to ever greater heights and continues 'walking above' in the Skyworld," said National Native American Hall of Fame CEO James Parker Shield.
Momady was born Navarre Scott Mammedaty, in Lawton, Oklahoma, on February 27, 1934. In his memoir, The Names, he explained that in Kiowa, Mammedaty meant "walking above" and was his grandfather's name, not a surname. N. Scott Momaday's father, Alfred, later changed the family's name to Momaday and adopted it as a surname.
Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his work, House Made of Dawn, and walked into the sunset on January 24, 2024, just about a month shy of his 90th birthday. Momaday's first novel won him critical acclaim and made him the first Native author to receive the most prized honor in literature. Momaday maintained literary distinction by writing more than a dozen novels, including The Way to Rainy Mountain, and numerous essays. He taught at Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, UC Berkeley, the University of New Mexico, Moscow State University, and other colleges and universities. In 2007, he received the National Medal of Arts from George W. Bush for writings that "celebrate and preserve Native American art and oral tradition." He was also honored with the Academy of American Poets prize and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.
He was an inspiration to countless Native American writers and poets, including three-time American Poet Laureate and Muscogee and Creek citizen Joy Harjo, who told the Associated Press that he was a kind of a literary father to many in Indian Country – a literary trailblazer and giant among literary greats.