Minnesota Author Biographies.

Gerald Vizenor

Gerald Vizenor

From Seventeen Chirps: Haiku in English (1964) by Gerald Vizenor

Pale pansies
Stood against the first snow
Until noon.

Biographical Notes

Birth: October 22, 1934, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Author, poet, and teacher Gerald Robert Vizenor lived in several foster homes after his father was murdered. He moved in with his mother and stepfather and was later abandoned by his mother (although they eventually reconciled). When Vizenor was fifteen years old, his stepfather was killed in a work accident. His father was Anishinaabe (Chippewa), and Vizenor spent a significant amount of time on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota with his father's family. He joined the Minnesota National Guard in 1950, at age fifteen, and was honorably discharged after a year when the unit was activated and sent to Korea. Vizenor enlisted in the Army two years later and was on active duty from 1952 to 1955, serving in Japan. He studied at New York University from 1955-56, earned a B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1960, pursued graduate work at the University of Minnesota from 1962-70, and won a Bush Fellowship for study at Harvard University in 1974. Vizenor served as a community advocate and director of the American Indian Employment and Guidance Center in Minneapolis in the late 1960s. He was a staff writer for the Minneapolis Tribune from 1968-70 and contributing editorial writer in the late 1970s through the 1980s.

Vizenor began his teaching career at Lake Forest College, Illinois in 1970. He was director and professor of Native American studies at Bemidji State University from 1972-73. He taught at the University of Minnesota from 1977-85, the University of California-Santa Cruz from 1987-90, and the University of Oklahoma from 1990-91. Vizenor is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley and he currently teaches American studies at the University of New Mexico. Vizenor is the founder and series editor of the American Indian Literature and Critical Studies series at the University of Oklahoma Press. Vizenor won the 1988 American Book Award for Griever: An American Monkey King in China (1987) and he received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Macalester College in 1999. Vizenor is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

Selected Works
The titles below link to the catalog record in MnPALS, the Minnesota Historical Society’s library catalog. Please click on your browser's back button to return.

Anishinabe Nagamon = Songs of the People interpreted and reexpressed from the original Anishinabe song transcriptions by Gerald Vizenor
Bear Island: The War at Sugar Point
Bearheart: The Heirship Chronicles
Chancers: A Novel
Darkness in Saint Louis Bearheart
Earthdivers: Tribal Narratives on Mixed Descent
Escorts to White Earth, 1868-1968: 100 Year Reservation
The Everlasting Sky: Voices of the Anishinabe People
George Morrison: Anishinaabe Expressionist Artist
Griever, an American Monkey King in China
Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors
The People Named the Chippewa: Narrative Histories
Shadow Distance: A Gerald Vizenor Reader
Shrouds of White Earth
Slight Abrasions: A Dialogue in Haiku
Summer in the Spring: Ojibwe Lyric Poems and Tribal Stories edited and reexpressed by Gerald Vizenor
Thomas James White Hawk
Tribal Scenes and Ceremonies
The Trickster of Liberty: Tribal Heirs to a Wild Baronage
Wordarrows: Indians and Whites in the New Fur Trade

Additional Resources

Minnesota Historical Society Links

• Search MNHS Library and Archives Catalog for author - Searches for works by this author in the Minnesota Historical Society’s library
Minnesota Historical Society Collections Online
Gerald Vizenor Papers, 1950-1998
Gerald Vizenor: Writing in the Oral Tradition by Kimberly Blaeser
George Morrison the Story of a Distinguished Anishinaabe Expressionist Painter: A Lecture - DVD of Gerald Vizenor lecturing on George Morrison

Web Links

Storytellers: Native American Authors Online - Articles, brief biography, and links
University of New Mexico - Brief biography

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