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Mar 08

Happy Birthday, Leslie Marmon Silko!

Photo Courtesy of Miriam Berkley

On March 5, 1948, Leslie Marmon Sliko was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Silko is constantly breaking down barriers and creating a platform for Native American writers to be heard while attempting to define to herself and the world what it means to be a Native woman.

Throughout her childhood, Silko and her family tied their identities to the Laguna Pueblo tribe but lived on the edge of Pueblo society, literally and figuratively. Since Silko was only one-fourth Laguna Pueblo, she and her family were often not permitted to participate in various rituals or join any of the religious societies. While her parents worked, however, she was cared for by her grandmother and great-grandmother who told her of all the Laguna stories and histories. As a result, she heavily identifies with her Laguna heritage, saying “I am of mixed-breed ancestry, but what I know is Laguna.”

After receiving her Bachelors of Arts from the University of New Mexico, Silko began to pursue her literary career full time, finding inspiration from her storytelling grandmother. One of her first short stories “The Man to Send Rain Clouds,” was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant and has made several appearances in different anthologies. Since then, her portfolio has grown

Photo Courtesy of Arizona Public Media

exponentially, including novels and collections such as Storyteller, Almanac of the Dead, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, and The Turquoise Ledge

In her novels and poems, Silko strives to open up the Anglo-European definitions of American literary traditions to incorporate underrepresented traditions, priorities, and ideas, including Native American stories and Native women’s issues. She includes elements of traditional Native American storytelling, like circular time, while weaving in myth and historical fact to create a truly new and intriguing narrative.

Today, we would like to honor Silko for her dedication to inclusive literature, which is a hot button issue even today. Very few authors get to see their works rise to such popularity in their lifetime, and her pieces are sure to have a lasting effect on generations to come. So, happy birthday, Leslie Marmon Silko! Your contributions to American literature will never be forgotten.

“Writing can’t change the world overnight, but writing may have an enormous effect over time, over the long haul.” – Leslie Marmon Silko