Lee Francis was born circa 1945 in Cubero, New Mexico. He was one of five children of Elias Lee Francis II (1913-2001), Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico from 1967 to 1971 and of Lebanese heritage, and Ethel Haines (1916-1991), a Native American of Laguna Pueblo/Anishinaabe and Scottish descent. His older sister, Paula Gunn Allen née Paula Marie Francis (1939-2008) became UCLA professor of English and American Indian studies and one of the foremost voices in Native American literature.
Lee Francis received his PhD from Western Institute for Social Research, Berkeley, CA and his MA and BA degrees from San Francisco State University. His university appointments included Visiting Associate Professor at the University of New Mexico and Interim Director of Native American Studies department, and the American Studies program at the American University, Washington, DC, where he also served as Director of the Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) program. He also served as Director of the Pre-Engineering Intensive Learning Academy for Native students at California State University, Long Beach, Student Affairs Officer at University of California Santa Barbara, Associate Director of the Educational Opportunity Program at San Francisco State University, and Senior Faculty with Meta-Life Adult Professional Training Institute.
Native American writing
Lee was the National Director of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers of Albuquerque, New Mexico since 1992. He served on the Diversity Committee of the United Way of America, and was an active member in a variety of organizations including the National Coalition for Indian Education and the National Indian Education Association. Lee's expertise in Native American Studies areas included: Literature (Oral and Contemporary), History, Contemporary Society (Political - American Indian Policies; Social - Reservation and Non-Reservation; Native Americans and State/Federal Relations; Health).
Lee's government service included appointments as Indian Youth Specialist with the US Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention - where he was Editor of Prevention Quarterly; Legislative Assistant to United States Senator Hugh Scott (former Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate), Special Assistant to U. S. Senator Pete V. Domenici, and Staff Assistant with the Joint Committee on Congressional Operations of the US Congress. He also served as a proposal reader for the US Department of Education's Javits Gifted and Talented Program and the Indian Fellowship program which funds Native American university undergraduate and graduate students, the Department of the Interior's Water Resources Training program, US Department of Education's Vocational Education program, the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) Secretary 's Fund for Technology as well as proposals for Field Initiated Studies and At-Risk Institute.
Francis was actively engaged in a number of research projects. He studied Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as applied to cultural groups, describing the research in this area as cultural idiocide. Other research interests included the national problem of homelessness, testing models to radically decrease racist behavior in urban communities, and evaluating prevention programs designed to impact alcohol and substance abuse among Native American Indian populations.
An engaging and powerful speaker, Francis enjoyed speaking to large and small groups on a variety of topics. He was regularly invited to speak to organizations throughout the country. Lee gave Keynote Addresses to audiences throughout the United States and Japan. He was an Invited Speaker at international, national, and regional conferences where he spoke on a wide variety of topics.
Lee Francis was awarded the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas. In 2003 he earned the Albuquerque Arts Alliance’ Bravos Award for Excellence in Literature.
Lee was a Trustee of the Laguna Pueblo Educational Foundation and a member of the editorial board of Michigan State University Press American Indian Literature Series, East Lansing, Michigan. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Indian Center, the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas and the Greenfield Literary Review Center. He was an elected Life Member of the National Psychiatric Association.
- On the Good Red Interstate: Truck Stop Tellings and Other Poems, Taurean Horn Press.
- When the Rain Sings: Poems by Young Native Americans, (Editor), Simon & Schuster.
- Native Time: A Historical Time Line of Native America, St. Martin's Press.
- Reclaiming The Vision - Past, Present and Future: Native Voices for the Eighth Generation, Edited with James Bruchac, Greenfield Review Press.
- Genocide of the Mind, Marijo Moore (Editor), Thunder's Mouth Press.
- English Studies/Culture Studies: Institutionalizing Dissent, Isaiah Smithson & Nancy Ruff (Editors), University of Illinois Press.
- The Telling of the World: Native American Stories and Art, W. S. Penn (Editor), Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
- Columbus & Beyond: Views from Native Americans, Southwest Parks & Monuments.
- Blue Dawn, Red Earth: New Native American Storytellers, Clifford E. Trafzer (Editor), Anchor Books
- Callaloo: Native Literatures Special Issue, 17, 1994, Johns Hopkins University Press.
- Francis, Lee, IV. Re-Visioning for the Next Sixteen Years. 21 September 2007 (retrieved 25 May 2009)
- State of New Mexico (July 2012). Kathryn A. Flynn, ed. 2012 Centennial Blue Book (PDF). Diana J. Duran. Office of the New Mexico Secretary of State. pp. 218–219.
- Family of Elias Lee Francis and Ethel Haines[dead link]
- Letisia Marquez, Obituary: Paula Gunn Allen, 68, noted English, American Indian studies scholar on the UCLA Newsroom website
- In Memoriam: Lee Francis. University of New Mexico Campus News. 28 July 2003 (retrieved 25 May 2009)
- A short biography from the Internet Public Library's Native American Author's Project.
- Storytellers: Native American Authors Online NativeWiki project.
- Writing available online