A member of the Kiowa tribe, Momaday was born in Oklahoma but grew up on reservations in the Southwest. He was educated at the University of New Mexico and Stanford University, and later taught at Berkeley, Stanford, and the University of Arizona. Momaday lives two lives as a professor of English and Comparative Literature and as a Kiowa tribal dancer and recorder of the Native American experience in this country. "None but an Indian, I think," he has said, "knows so much what it is like to have existence in two worlds and security in neither." This is a theme that runs through his fiction and nonfiction, including his Pulitzer prize winning first novel, House Made of Dawn (1968). Yet, as a Native American and a writer, Momaday finds two sources of identity the land and the language. The former gives strength to the American Indian, whose sense of identification comes from a closeness to the land. The latter connects humankind to ourselves and our world. "Man's idea of himself" finds "old and essential being in language," Momaday has written. Acts of naming, of remembering these are "legendary as well as historical, personal as well as cultural."
Robert DiYanni received a B.A. from Rutgers University in 1968 and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York in 1976. He has taught at Queens College of the City University of New York, New York University, Harvard University, and Pace University. He has written articles and reviews on various aspects of literature, composition, and pedagogy. He has written numerous books including The McGraw-Hill Book of Poetry, Women's Voices, Like Season'd Timber: New Essays on George Herbert, and Modern American Poets: Their Voices and Visions.