Paula Gunn Allen


Biography of Paula Gunn Allen

Paula Gunn Allen (October 24, 1939 – May 29, 2008) was a Native American poet, literary critic, lesbian activist, and novelist. Of mixed-race European-American and Native American descent, she identified with the Laguna Pueblo of her childhood years, the culture in which she'd grown up. She drew from its oral traditions for her fiction and poetry, and also wrote numerous essays on its themes. She edited four collections of Native American traditional stories and contemporary works, and wrote two biographies of Native American women.

In addition to her literary work, in 1986 she published a major study on the role of women in American Indian traditions, arguing that Europeans had de-emphasized the role of women in their accounts of native life because of their own patriarchal societies. It stimulated other scholarly work by feminist and Native American writers.

Born Paula Marie Francis in Albuquerque, New Mexico Allen grew up in Cubero, New Mexico, a Spanish-Mexican land grant village bordering the Laguna Pueblo reservation. Of mixed Laguna, Sioux, Scottish, and Lebanese-American descent, Allen always identified most closely with the Laguna, among whom she spent her childhood and upbringing.

Allen received a BA and MFA from the University of Oregon. She earned a PhD at the University of New Mexico, where she worked as a professor and began research on tribal religions.

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