Duane Niatum

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Duane Niatum (McGinniss) is a Native American poet, author and playwright from the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe in the northern Olympic Peninsula of the state of Washington. Niatum's work draws inspiration from all aspects of life ranging from nature, art, Native American history and humans rights. After completing a BA from the University of Washington and M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, Niatum taught American and European literature at the high school and was the editor for the Harper & Row's Native American Author series before returning to academia to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. Niatum's works. Niatum is often cited as belonging to the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has termed the Native American Renaissance.


Born in 1938 in Seattle, Washington to a Klallam (Salish) mother and Italian-American father, Niatum struggled with his mixed Indigenous and Italian heritage which would trouble him for years. After his parent's divorce, Niatum's Klallam grandfather became his surrogate father which would leave a lasting impression as he would pass on the Klallam tribe's oral tradition which would later become intertwined into his writing.

At the age of 17, Niatum enlisted into the United States Navy which would be included in his short story "Crow's Sun." After his military service, Niatum graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Washington, an M.A at Johns Hopkins University, and earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1997 in which he discussed the life and art of the Aleut sculptor, John Hoover.

Niatum would later describe his mixed-ancestry as such: "My aesthetic position has always been to learn and grow from whatever sources of knowledge are available.  I have, without exception, believed it extremely important to maintain a balance and give my reader the wholeness of my experience through living in both worlds.  Fortunately, time has shown me how to live within this paradox.  Art continues to offer the opportunity of surviving in both worlds no matter how challenging that may become at times."

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.

Duane Niatum was the editor of the Native American Authors Program, Harper & Row Publishers.


  • Earth Vowels Mongrel Empire, 2017.
  • 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)





"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."[1]


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