Elizabeth Cook-Lynn

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Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (born "Elizabeth Irving" in 1930 at Government Hospital) is an editor, essayist, poet, novelist, and member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. She is considered to be outspoken in her views about Native American politics, particularly in regards to tribal sovereignty. For instance, she has often been quite critical of authors putting forth tenuous claims to Native/Indigenous ancestry with the purpose of advancing their own careers, and has reflected on the negative implications that these "tribeless" authors have, not only on Native Studies as a discipline, but also in the development of economic and social life of Native nations.[1]


Cook-Lynn was born in Fort Thompson, South Dakota on the Crow Creek Reservation. She is a Dakota and member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.[1] There, she attended school on the Big Bend Reservation.[2] She was raised in a family of scholars and politicians, with both her father and grandfather serving on the Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Council. Her grandmother also wrote bilingually for Christian Newspapers; and her great grandfather, Gabriel Renville, was a Native linguist and pioneer of early Dakotah language dictionaries.[3] Cook-Lynn attended South Dakota State College (Which later became South Dakota State University) where she earned a BA in English and Journalism. In college, Elizabeth took a history class about Westward expansion. This class completely ignored Native American presence. This sparked her interested in advocating for Native Americans.[4] Cook-Lynn states that she wrote out of anger, as an "act of defiance born of the need to survive ... as Simon Ortiz says, it is an act that defies oppression."[1] Cook-Lynn also attended the New Mexico State University in 1966, Black Hills State College in 1968, and finished her doctoral program at the University of Nebraska in 1978. Prior to receiving her doctorate, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn became a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow in 1976 at Stanford University.[3]

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn co-founded Wíčazo Ša Review ("Red Pencil"), an academic journal devoted to the development of Native American studies as an academic discipline, in 1985. The other founding editors were Beatrice Medicine, Roger Buffalohead, and William Willard. Cook-Lynn's career also included teaching and writing. She taught at multiple high schools in New Mexico and South Dakota, and has been a visiting professor at UC Davis. Most notably, Cook-Lynn served as a professor of English and Native Studies at Eastern Washington University. She retired from this position in 1971, and became Professor Emerita in 1990. She has also served as a writer-in-residence at multiple universities, as a visiting professor at Arizona State University in 2000.[3][4]

In her book, "You May Consider Speaking About Your Art", Cook-Lynn states that the contemporary poet is someone who must "consecrate history and event, survival and joy and sorrow, the significance of ancestors and the unborn."[2] Her first book, "Then Badger Said This" (1977) "illustrated multi-genre exploration of the sources of Dakotah life and values."[2] She also acknowledges N. Scott Momaday in the creation of the book.[2]


  • 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas
  • National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship
  • 2002 Literary Contribution Award from the Mountain Plains Library Association
  • Oyate Igluwitaya by the Native American Club at South Dakota State University
  • Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays : A Tribal Voice, cited for a Gustavus Myers Award


  • From the river's edge (NY: Arcade, 1991).
  • Mount Rushmore
  • At Dawn, Sitting in My Father's House


  • I remember the fallen trees : new and selected poems (Cheney, WA: Eastern Washington UP, 1998).

Short stories[edit]

  • The power of horses and other stories (NY: Arcade, 1990).
  • Seek the house of relatives (Marvin, SD: Blue Cloud Quarterly Press, 1983).
  • Then Badger said this (Fairfield, WA: Ye Galleon Press, 1983).


  • A Separate Country: Postcoloniality and American Indian Nations (Texas Tech University Press, 2011).
  • Anti-Indianism in Modern America: A Voice from Tatekeya's Earth (Illinois UP 2001).
  • Politics of Hallowed Ground : Wounded Knee and the Struggle for Indian Sovereignty (with Mario Gonzalez) (Illinois UP, 1999).
  • Why I can't read Wallace Stegner and other essays : a tribal voice (Madison : University of Wisconsin Press, 1996).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rehm; Curtwright, Robin; Lauren (1999). "Elizabeth Cook-Lynn" (PDF). Voices from the Gaps – via University of Minnesota Digital Conservancy.
  2. ^ a b c d Ruppert, James (1994). Dictionary of Native American Literature. Garland Publishing, Inc.
  3. ^ a b c d "Elizabeth Cook-Lynn". www.hanksville.org. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  4. ^ a b Wilson, Kathy (1999). Native American Literature. ABC-CLIO, Inc.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bataille, Gretchen M.; Lisa, Laurie (2001). Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (2nd ed.). NY: Routledge. pp. 62–63.

External links[edit]