Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, Momaday is well known as a poet, novelist (House Made of Dawn and The Way to Rainy Mountain), painter, playwright, and storyteller. Although his work is centered in Native American culture and history, he has written poetry about a variety of subjects, including poems about nature partly shaped by a Native American vision. His literary influences are still wider, as is apparent when he writes in rhymed syllabics. Some of his literary works include his line drawings and paintings, which have been exhibited a number of times. Long the most highly acclaimed Native American literary figure, his work has inspired a generation of younger artists. He is an enrolled member of the Kiowas, a Native American people who once made their homes across the southern plains of the American west. Educated primarily at the University of New Mexico and Stanford, from which he received a Ph.D., he teaches at the University of Arizona and is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Dance Society. His author's note for In the Presence of the Sun: Stories and Poems (1992) concludes, "He walks long distances, and he rides an Appaloosa mare named `Ma'am.' At his best he cooks. He is justly famous for a recipe named `The Washita Crossing Soup,' the ingredients of which are, in his words, `simple, sacred, and secret.' He is a bear."
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