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Elizabeth Woody

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.[1][2]


Elizabeth Woody was born in Ganado, Arizona in 1959.[3] 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,[3] 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.[4] 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".[5] 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[6] 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",[7] 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[8] of Portland, Oregon for the Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award.[9] 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[10] 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.[3] 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[3] 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.[1]

Books by Elizabeth Woody


  • Luminaries of the Humble, (Sun Tracks, Vol 30), University of Arizona Press.
  • Seven Hands Seven Hearts, Eighth Mountain Press.
  • Hand into Stone: Poems, Contact II Publications.
    • Reviewed by Joy Harjo in Calyx, 12, no. 3 (1990): 95-97
    • Reviewed in Mid-American Review, XI, 1, Fall 1990.
  • Old Shirts & New Skins Elizabeth illustrated this book of Sherman Alexie poems.[11]


  • Renewing Salmon Nation's Food Traditions, Gary Paul Nabhan (Editor), Ecotrust, Portland, OR. 2006.
  • River of Memory: The Everlasting Columbia, William D. Layman (editor), Washington Univ. Pr.
  • A Song to the Creator: Traditional Arts of Native American Women of the Plateau, Lillian A. Ackerman (Editor), Univ. Oklahoma Press.
  • Oregon Salmon: Essay on the State of the Fish at the Turn of the Millennium. Essay, Oregon Trout, Portland, OR, 2001
  • Salmon Nation, Edward C. Wolf and Seth Zuckerman, Ecotrust. Portland, OR. 1999.
  • When the Rain Sings: Poems by Young Native Americans, Lee Francis (Editor), Simon & Schuster.
  • Dreaming the Dawn: Conversations With Native Artists and Activists, E. K. Caldwell, University of Nebraska Press.
  • First Fish, First People: Salmon Tales of the North Pacific, Judith Roche and Meg McHutchison (Editors), University of Washington Press.
  • Speaking for the Generations: Native Writers on Writing (Sun Tracks Books), University of Arizona Press.
  • Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals, Linda Hogan, Deena Metzger, Brenda Peterson (Editors), Ballantine & Random House
  • Earth, Wind, and Fire: Harry Fonseca, Jonathan Batkin (Editor), Wheelwright Museum, Santa Fe.
  • Native American Art in the Twentieth Century: Makers, Meanings, Histories, Jackson Rushing (Editor), Routledge LTD.
  • The Writer's Journal: 40 Contemporary Authors and Their Journals, Sheila Bender (Editor), Delta.
  • Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writing of North America, Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird (editors), W.W. Norton.
  • Durable Breath: Contemporary Native American Poetry, John E. Smelcer, D. L. Birchfield (Editors), Salmon Run Press
  • A Gathering of Spirit: A Collection by North American Indian Women, Beth Brant (Editor), Firebrand Books.
  • Home Places: Contemporary Native American Writing from Sun Tracks (Sun Tracks, Vol 31), Larry Evers, Ofelia Zepeda (Editors), University of Arizona Press.
  • Dancing on the Rim of the World : An Anthology of Contemporary Northwest Native American Writing (Sun Tracks, Vol 19), Andrea Lerner (Editor), University of Arizona Press.
  • Returning the Gift: Poetry and Prose from the First North American Native Writers' Festival, (Sun Tracks Books, No 29) University of Arizona Press.
  • The World begins Here: Oregon Short Fiction, (Oregon Literature Series, Vol 1), Glen A. Love (Editor), Oregon State University Press.
  • Varieties of Hope: An Anthology of Oregon Prose, (Oregon Literature Series, Vol 3), Gordon B. Dodds (Editor), Oregon State University Press.
  • From Here We Speak: An Anthology of Oregon Poetry (Oregon Literature Series ; V. 4), Ingrid Wendt, Primus St. John (Editors), Oregon State University Press.
  • The Stories We Tell: An Anthology of Oregon Folk Literature (Oregon Literature Series Vol. 5), Suzi Jones, Jarold Ramsey (Editors), Oregon State University Press.
  • A Circle of Nations: Voices and Visions of American Indians, John Gattuso (Editor), Beyond Words Publishing Co.
  • We, the human beings: 27 contemporary native American artists, Wooster Art Museum.
  • Talking Leaves: Contemporary Native American Short Stories, Craig Lesley, Katheryn Stavrakis (Editor) Dell Books
  • The Clouds Threw This Light, Phillip Foss (Editor), Institute of American Indian Arts Press.
  • Songs from This Earth on Turtle's Back: An Anthology of Poetry by American Indian Writers, Joseph Bruchac (Editor), Greenfield Review Press

Interviews and critical essays

  • The Nature of Native American Poetry, Norma C. Wilson, Univ. New Mexico Press.
  • Here First, Brian Swann, Arnold Krupat (Editors), Random House.
  • "Contrary Iconography", Jackson Rushing, New Art Examiner, Summer 1994.
  • "The Earth is Richer for this Voice", Interview by Kim Caldwell in Raven's Chronicles, Winter 93-94.

Biographical information

  • Notable Native Americans, Sharon Malinowski & George H.J. Abrams (Editors), Gale Research.
  • The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters, Patrick D. Lester, University of Oklahoma Press.
  • St. James Guide to Native North American Artists, Roger Matuz (Editor), Gale Research.
  • Contemporary Authors: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Writers in Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Journalism, Drama, Motion Pictures, Television, Volume 135, Susan M. Trosky (Editor), Gale Research.


Work published in translation

  • Les Cahiers- de poesie recontre, 25 special, La poesie Amerindienne, May 1989, Manuel Van Theinen (Editor), France.
  • Elenco Racconti Raccolta Scrittrici Indianoamericane, Laura Coltelli, Dr. Cinzia Biagotti (Editors), Giunti Gruppo Editoriale, Publisher, Firenze, Italy.


  1. ^ a b Frazier, Laura (March 24, 2016). "Elizabeth Woody named Oregon's 8th Poet Laureate". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  2. ^ Bancud, Michaela (September 6, 2016) [online date September 5]. "Book Report: A conversation with Oregon's new poet laureate". Portland Tribune. p. B10. Retrieved 2016-09-08.
  3. ^ a b c d Lester, Patrick D. The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters. Norman: Oklahoma University Press, 1995: 628. ISBN 0-8061-9936-9.
  4. ^ About Soapstone, Inc. Archived 2009-02-22 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 22 May 2009)
  5. ^ Hité'emlkiliiksix: "Within the Circle of the Rim: Nations Gathering on Common Ground"
  6. ^ "Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. (retrieved 25 October 2013)
  7. ^ "Indigenous Ways of Knowing Project". Archived from the original on 2008-07-04. Retrieved 2009-05-22.
  8. ^ Ecotrust Expert Bios. Archived 2008-05-17 at the Wayback Machine (retrieved 22 May 2009)
  9. ^ Ecotrust Indigenous Leadership Award
  10. ^ Collaboration in Curriculum. (pdf) Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction. (retrieved 22 May 2009)
  11. ^ Old Shirts & New Skins. (retrieved 22 May 2009)

External links