Elizabeth Woody (born 1959) is an American Navajo-Warm Springs-Wasco-Yakama artist, author, and educator. In March 2016, she was the first Native American to be named poet laureate of Oregon by Governor Kate Brown.
Elizabeth Woody was born in Ganado, Arizona in 1959. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon. She is born for Tódích'íinii (Bitter Water clan). Her mother's mother belongs to the Milee-thlama (People of the Hot Springs) and Wyampum peoples (People of the Echo of Water Upon Rocks). Her maternal grandfather's people were the middle Columbia River Chinook peoples. After studying at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1980 to 1983, she earned a bachelor's degree in Humanities with an emphasis in English from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. In 2012 she received a Master of Public Administration Degree through the Executive Leadership Institute of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.
From 1994-1996, Woody was a professor of creative writing at the IAIA. In 1992, she was an invited writer at the Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers and a featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. Her poetry was chosen by James Welch for inclusion in the Spring 1994 issue of Ploughshares, which he edited. She is a board member of Soapstone, Inc., an organization dedicated to providing a writing retreat for women. This organization has revamped its focus and supports women writers by supporting study groups on women authors. Applications are available for residencies at their website.
Woody has worked in various programs teaching workshops, mentoring, as a consultant and lectures throughout the country. She has worked with the Telluride Native Writer's Forum, reading, panels, and workshops for Northwest Wordcraft Circle, Neah Bay, WA and Newport, Oregon; Southwest Native American High School Students, Telluride, CO; Young Writer's Conference and Performance, readings, illustration, poetry and short story workshops for Northwest Native American high school writers at Paschal Sherman Indian School, Omak, Washington; Grey Hills Academy Diné Fine Arts and Drama Festival, Tuba City, Arizona; and Flight of the Mind Writing Workshops for Women, McKenzie Bridge, Oregon.
As an artist, Woody has exhibited regionally and nationally. She participated in the Pacific Rim Gathering that culminated in a touring exhibition in Hité'emlkiliiksix, "Within the Circle of the Rim: Nations Gathering on Common Ground". She has shown in "Submuloc Wohs/Columbus Show" and "For the Seventh Generation: Native American Artists Counter the Quincentenary", Columbus, New York. Both exhibitions toured. In Oregon, Woody served on the Northwest Native American Arts Services Task Force, sponsored by the Eastern Oregon Regional Arts Council and was one of the founding members of the Northwest Native American Writers Association. She was selected to be an apprentice in the Oregon Folk Arts Master-Apprenticeship, to learn traditional basket weaving from Margaret Jim-Pennah. Woody has also served as a juror for their program for two years, and has served on multi-disciplinary art fellowship jury panels for several arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Woody is on the Board of Directors of Soapstone, a Women Writer's Retreat, served on the original Willamette University Advisory Council for Native Programs located in Salem, Oregon, and served as founding secretary on the founding board of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation endowed by the Ford Foundation. She also served on the inaugural Advisory Board for Lewis and Clark College Graduate School of Education and Counseling conference, "Indigenous Ways of Knowing", and as a leadership circle advisor for the Ford Foundation's feasibility study on a national Native American arts and culture fund. In 2005 Woody was approved by resolution to serve on the steering committee for the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians proposed Northwest Tribes Indian Policy Center. She also advises the Evergreen State College Native Arts Council who held a Native American Arts Fair at the Washington State History Museum.
She completed the Master of Public Administration Program in 2012 (emphasis in Environmental Policy, and Natural Resources Management) at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. She formerly worked as Director of the Indigenous Leadership Program at the non-profit environmental organization, Ecotrust of Portland, Oregon for the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award. After twelve years of service, and seven years of developing the program, Elizabeth moved to the "National Science Foundation's Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction located at Oregon Health and Science University. She worked as the K-12 Program Coordinator for three years. She is a program officer at the Meyer Memorial Trust located in Portland, Oregon.
Woody received an American Book Award in 1990 for her book Hand into Stone from the Before Columbus Foundation. This book has been republished, including new prose and poetry, as Seven Hands Seven Hearts. In 1993 she received a Medicine Pathways for the Future Fellowship/Kellogg Fellowship from the American Indian Ambassadors Program of the Americans for Indian Opportunity. She is a recipient of the William Stafford Memorial Award for Poetry from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and was a finalist in the Oregon Book Awards in poetry for Luminaries of the Humble in 1995. She held a Brandywine Visiting Artist Fellowship in 1986, and in 1997 she was awarded a J.T. Stewart Award and Fellowship by Hedgebrook, a retreat for women writers on Whidbey Island, Washington. In May 1997, she participated in a residency sponsored by Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco, California. The governor named her Poet Laureate of Oregon starting April 2016 for two years.