Tapahonso, Luci, 1953-....

Alternative names
Birth 1953-11-08

Biographical notes:

Writer and teacher, born in Shiprock, N.M.. Earned her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Creative Writing from UNM in 1980, and 1983 respectively. Politics, social issues, racism, and economics permeate Tapahonso's writing. Her goal in relation to her writing is to keep Navajo culture intact and dynamic. Tapahonso writes in English and Navajo.

From the description of Papers, 1976-[ongoing]. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 35564419

Photo by Cynthia Farah Haines. Part of Writers of the Southwest Collection, PICT 986-008

Luci Tapahonso was born on November 8, 1953 in Shiprock, New Mexico, a town located on the Navajo reservation. She spent most of her school years at the Navajo Methodist Mission School, a boarding school in Farmington, 30 miles from Shiprock. She graduated from Shiprock High School in 1971. Following a few semesters at Phoenix College studying accounting, Tapahonso enrolled at the University of New Mexico in 1976, earning her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Creative Writing in 1980 and 1983, respectively. Tapahonso held teaching positions at San Felipe Pueblo Day School, at the University of New Mexico. She currently teaches at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Her interest in reading and writing was nurtured throughout her childhood; by the time she graduated high school, Luci was well on her way to becoming a writer. In the early to mid-1970's, Tapahonso wrote for newspapers including the Farmington Daily Times, the Navajo Times, Americans Before Columbus, and Akwesasne Notes. Her first short story was written for an English class taught by Leslie Silko at UNM. Silko told Tapahonso that she was a wonderful and gifted writer, and encouraged her to write more and consider writing for a living. Tapahonso took this advice seriously, changed her major to creative writing and began sending material out for publication.

Luci Tapahonso considers her poetry and writing an extension of her experience. Her sense of place is derived from her roots in Shiprock, N.M. Her point of view is that of a Navajo woman in contemporary times, with an americanized life, but rooted in an "un-american" tradition. Politics, social issues, racism, and economics permeate her writing. Luci Tapahonso's goal in relation to her writing is to keep Navajo culture intact and dynamic.

From the guide to the Luci Tapahonso Papers, 1976-, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • American literature--Indian authors
  • Navajo Indians in literature
  • Navajo Indians--Poets
  • Navajo Indians--Poetry
  • Minorities in literature


  • Writer, Prose, Fiction and Nonfiction
  • Poets


  • Navajo Indian Reservation (as recorded)
  • Navajo Indian Reservation (as recorded)