IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

MFA Faculty


Jon Davis, Director

Jon Davis, Director of the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing, is the author of five chapbooks and three full-length collections of poetry, Preliminary Report (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), Scrimmage of Appetite, for which he was honored with a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry, and Dangerous Amusements, for which he received a G.E. Younger Writers Award and the Lavan Prize. He has also received two NEA Fellowships, a Lannan Residency, a Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, and a residency at Cill Rialaig in Ireland. He has taught at the Institute of American Indian Arts since 1990 and is currently Santa Fe’s Poet Laureate. Jon’s Blog

Sherman Alexie

Fiction writer, poet, performer, screenwriter, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene) is the author of twenty books, including, most recently, Blasphemy: New and Selected Stories from Grove Press; War Dances, stories and poems, from Grove Press; and Face, poetry, from Hanging Loose Press. He is the winner of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry, the PEN/Faulkner Award, National Book Award, PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, American Book Award, and a Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Award. He was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction. In 1999, he was selected by The New Yorker as one of its “20 Writers for the 21st Century” and, in 1996, Granta named him one of the “Twenty Best American Novelists Under the Age of 40.” Sherman’s Website

Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Dine of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’izilani (Many Goats Clan). He is the author of Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003) and Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). His recent honors include a 2011 Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship and a 2011 Native Arts & Culture Foundation Arts Fellowship. He is also the recipient of a 2010 PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. Sherwin’s Website

Amanda Boyden

Amanda Boyden is the author of two novels, Pretty Little Dirty and Babylon Rolling, an international bestseller and one of the French weekly Le Point’s top twenty books of 2010. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch included the novel in its Best Books of the Year and said, “[Pretty Little Dirty] hinted at the author’s literary promise. With Babylon Rolling, that promise is fulfilled.” Her third novel, The Scientist’s Daughter, will also be a Random House release. Amanda has contributed nonfiction to Macleans magazine, the Globe and Mail, the anthology New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost, and others. Amanda at Random House


Joseph Boyden

A Canadian Metis of Irish, Scottish, and Ojibwe heritage, Joseph has written a collection of stories, Born with a Tooth, two novels, Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce, and a historical biography, Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. Isabelle Allende chose Three Day Road for The Today Show’s Book Club, and Barnes & Noble selected it for their Discover Great New Writers Program. The novel won The Rogers Writers Trust Prize; McNally Robinson Aboriginal Book of the Year Award; Canadian Authors Association Book of the Year Award; The Libris Book of the Year Award; Amazon First Novel Award; the Festival America Readers’ Award, Vincennes, Paris; and France’s Prix Literaire, Cote D’Azur. Through Black Spruce won Canada’s most prestigious literary prize, the ScotiaBank Giller, as well as the Libris Book of the Year and Author of the Year awards. In 2012 Joseph was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canadian arts and culture. His third novel, The Orenda, will be published in 2014. Joseph’s Website

Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in April of 2012.  She is the recipient of a 2012 Bread Loaf Scholarship; a Lannan Residency in Marfa, Texas; a 2012 Native Arts & Culture Foundation Arts Fellowship; and a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellowship. Natalie at Copper Canyon

Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010). Her work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in publications including Glamour, Salon, Dissent, The Southeast Review, New York Times, Bitch Magazine, The Rumpus, Drunken Boat, Hunger Mountain, and The Chronicle of Higher Education Review. The recipient of two MacDowell Colony fellowships and a Bread Loaf William Sloan Fellowship in Nonfiction, Melissa teaches nonfiction in the Sarah Lawrence MFA Program, and has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, CNN’s Dr. Drew, and Anderson Cooper Live. Melissa’s Website



Santee Frazier

Santee Frazier is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He holds a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Syracuse University. He is the recipient of various awards including: a Syracuse University Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship, The School for Advanced Research Indigenous Writer in Residence, and a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship. His poems have appeared in American Poet, Narrative Magazine, Ontario Review, Ploughshares, and other literary journals. His first collection of poetry, Dark Thirty, was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2009. Santee’s Website



Sterlin Harjo

In 2006, Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek) received a prestigious United States Artists Fellowship, a Media Arts Fellowship from Renew Media, and the Creative Promise Award from Tribeca All Access. His 2008 dramatic feature Barking Water premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was screened at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Harjo’s first feature film, Four Sheets to the Wind, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and has been widely screened nationally and internationally at film festivals and art cinemas.  Sterlin at Native Networks



Geoff Harris

Before becoming a freelance writer/producer, Geoff Harris was Vice President in charge of Story and Writer Development at NBC, where he worked for 12 years. He also has taught TV-writing intensive workshops for Native American and Latino writers, sponsored by ABC and NBC, as well as a Web Series writing class for MFA students at Cal State University, Los Angeles. Many of his workshop students have gone on to staff positions on TV shows. He blogs about television writing on the Save the Cat! website. Geoff at Script Analysts

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. She received a 2009 Whiting Writers’ Award for her first poetry collection, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, published in its first edition by NorthShore Press Alaska and in its second edition by the University of Alaska Press. Her second book, Hyperboreal, was chosen as the winner of the 2012 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. She has received an individual artist award from the Rasmuson Foundation, a fellowship from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Conservation Foundation’s Native Writers on the Environment award, and a Literature Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Joan’s Website

Chip Livingston

Chip Livingston is the mixed-blood Creek author of three books: two collections of poetry, Crow-Blue, Crow-Black (2012) and Museum of False Starts (2010); and a collection of short stories and creative nonfiction, Naming Ceremony (forthcoming, 2014). His writing has received awards from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, and the AABB Foundation. Chip’s writing has appeared in the anthologies The People Who Stayed; Sing; Sovereign Erotics; and Dias de los Muertos. He has taught at the University of Colorado, University of the Virgin Islands, and Brooklyn College. Chip’s Website

Susan Power

Susan Power, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and a native Chicagoan, is the author of three books, The Grass Dancer (a novel) Roofwalker (a story collection), and Sacred Wilderness (a novel from Michigan State University Press). Her short stories and essays have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories of 1993, The Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, Southern Review, and Granta. She has received a PEN/Hemingway prize, a Milkweed National Fiction Prize, an Iowa Arts Fellowship, James Michener Fellowship, Radcliffe Bunting Institute Fellowship, Princeton Hodder Fellowship, and a USA Artists Fellowship. Susan at Voices in the Gaps

Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is a Haisla/Heiltsuk author from Kitamaat Village, a reserve on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Her first book, Traplines, a collection of short stories, won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998.  Monkey Beach, her first novel, won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize in 2001, was long-listed for Dublin IMPAC Award, and shortlisted for both The Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction in 2000.  Her most recent novel is Blood Sports. Eden at McClelland

Orlando White

Orlando White is the author of Bone Light (Red Hen Press, 2009). Originally from Tólikan, Arizona, he is Diné of the Naaneesht’ézhi Tábaahí and born for the Naakai Diné’e. He is a recipient of a Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Residency, and a Bread Loaf John Ciardi Fellowship. He has taught at The Art Center Design College, Brown University, and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Currently, he teaches at Diné College and lives in Tsaile, Arizona. Orlando’s Website


Ken White

Ken White is a co-writer and co-producer of the feature film Winter in the Blood, adapted from James Welch’s novel of the same name. His current project is a screen adaptation of Debra Earling’s novel Perma Red, which he is attached to direct. He has written or co-written eight feature scripts, including Blight and The Wereman, as well as adaptations of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and the medieval Irish epic The Tain Bo Cuailgne – The Cattle Raid of Cooley. His poetry has appeared in The Boston Review, The Tusculum Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Versal, and Manor House Quarterly, among others. He is the author of one book of poems, Eidolon (Peel Press 2013). Winter in the Blood Website



Recent and Upcoming Visitors




Photo credits: Jon Davis by Teresa White, Sherman Alexie by Chase Jarvis, Sherwin Bitsui by Richard Castaneda, Amanda Boyden by LJ Goldstein, Natalie Diaz by Joseph Gidjunis, Melissa Febos by Caitlin Delohery, Santee Frazier by Summer Frazier, Sterlin Harjo by Chuck Foxen, Joan Kane by Seth Kantner, Chip Livingston by Gabriel Padilha, Susan Power by Rebecca Dallinger, Eden Robinson by Arthur Renwick, Orlando White by Layli Long Soldier.