After his parent's divorce, Niatum's Klallam grandfather became his surrogate father.
After serving in the United States Navy, Niatum graduated with a B.A. from the University of Washington, completed work on a M.A at Johns Hopkins University, and earned a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1997.
Niatum has taught at Johns Hopkins University, The Evergreen State College, the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University, Seattle Central Community College, Western Washington University, Northwest Indian College, and the University of Michigan.
He was editor of the Native American Authors Program, Harper & Row Publishers.
- The Pull of the Green Kite Seattle, WA: Serif & Pixel Press, 2011
- Agate Songs on the Path of Red Cedar: Poems Sequim, WA : Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, c2011
- Journeys That Criss-cross Darkness and Light: Poems [Tacoma, WA] : D. Niatum, [2004?]
- Nesting Out for Stars, and Other Stories [Bellingham, WA : D. Niatum, 2002
- The crooked beak of love Albuquerque, N.M.: West End Press (2000) ISBN 0-931122-96-1
- Stories from the land of red cedar Seattle (1999)
- Learning to Live With Darkness Like the Crows [Seattle: D. Niatum, 1994?]
- Drawings of the Song Animals: New and Selected Poems. Duluth, Minnesota: Holy Cow! Press (1991) ISBN 0-930100-43-3
- Harper's Anthology of Twentieth-Century Native American Poetry San Francisco: Harper & Row (1988)
- Stories of the Moons Marvin, SD: Blue Cloud Quarterly Press (1987)
- Raven and the Fear of Growing White Amsterdam, Holland: Bridge Press (1983)
- Pieces New York: Strawberry Press (1981)
- Songs for the Harvester of Dreams Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press (1981) ISBN 0-295-95758-1
- To Bridge the Dream Laguna, NM: A Press (1978)
- Digging out the roots: poems New York: Harper & Row (1977) ISBN 0-06-451155-3
- Turning to the Rhythms of Her Song Seattle, WA: Jawbone Press (1977)
- Carriers of the Dream Wheel: Contemporary Native American Poetry. Harper & Row (1975) ISBN 978-0-06-451151-3
- A Cycle for the Woman in the Field. Laughing Man Press (1973)
- Ascending Red Cedar Moon, New York: Harper & Row (1973) ISBN 0-06-451150-2
- Taos Pueblo and Other Poems. Greenfield Center, NY: Greenfield Review Press (1973) ISBN 0-912678-08-9
- After the Death of an Elder Klallam Phoenix, AZ: Baleen Press (1970) ISBN 0-912074-00-0
- Breathless Seattle, WA: University of Washington (1968)
- Brian Swann, Arnold Krupat, eds. (2005). I tell you now: autobiographical essays by Native American writers. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-9314-4.
- Jim Elledge, Susan Swartwout, eds. (1999). Real things: an anthology of popular culture in American poetry. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-33434-3.
- Andrea Lerner, ed. (1990). Dancing on the rim of the world: an anthology of contemporary Northwest native American writing. Sun Tracks. ISBN 978-0-8165-1215-7.
- American Book Award (1982)
- First Prize - Poetry. Pacific Northwest Writers Conference. (1966), (1970)
- Poetry in Motion Grant Award
"Duane Niatum, a key figure in the poetry of the contemporary Native American literary explosion, has produced a sixth collection of poems. It's an important event."