Nora Marks Dauenhauer

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Nora Marks Keixwnéi Dauenhauer
Nora Dauenhauer.jpg
Nora Dauenhauer in 2011
Born(1927-05-08)May 8, 1927
DiedSeptember 25, 2017(2017-09-25) (aged 90)
OccupationPoet, Tlingit Language Researcher
Known forTlingit language and history writing.

Nora Marks Keixwnéi Dauenhauer (May 8, 1927 – September 25, 2017) was a Tlingit poet, short-story writer, and Tlingit language scholar from Alaska. She won an American Book Award for Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka, 1802 And 1804. Nora was Alaska State Writer Laureate from 2012 - 2014.


Nora Marks was born May 8, 1927, the first of 16 children of Emma Marks (1913–2006) of Yakutat, Alaska, and Willie Marks (1902–1981), a Tlingit from Hoonah, Alaska. Nora's Tlingit name at birth was Keix̱wnéi.[1] Following her mother in the Tlingit matrilineal system, she was a member of the Raven moiety of the Tlingit nation, of the Yakutat Lukaax̱.ádi (Sockeye Salmon) clan,[1] and of the Shaka Hít or Canoe Prow House, from Alsek River. In 1986 she was chosen as clan co-leader Yakutat Lukaax̱.ádi (Sockeye Salmon) clan. and as trustees of the Raven House and other clan property.[2] In November 2010 she was given the title Naa Tláa (Clan Monther) as the ceremonial leader of the clan. Emma's maternal grandfather had been Frank Italio (1870–1956), an informant to the anthropologist Frederica de Laguna whose knowledge was incorporated into De Laguna's 1972 ethnography of the northern Tlingit, Under Mount St. Elias[3].

She was raised in Juneau, Hoonah, and on seasonal hunting and fishing sites around Icy Straits, Glacier Bay, and Cape Spencer. Her first language is Tlingit. She began to learn English when she entered school at the age of 8. In 1976, she earned a bachelor's degree in Anthropology from Alaska Methodist University (Alaska Pacific University).[2] In the early 1970s, she married linguist Richard Dauenhauer, who had done his doctoral work on Tlingit language. She is international recognized for her work preserving and teaching the Tlingit language.[2]

She died on September 25, 2017 at the age of 90.[1]


Dauenhauer researched Tlingit language for the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks from 1972 to 1973. There she translated and transcribed works of Tlingit culture into books. Her books include Beginning Tlingit, published in 1976.[4]

When Dauenhauer received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, she and her family moved to Juneau, Alaska, in 1983. There she became a principal researcher in language and cultural studies at the Sealaska Heritage Foundation from 1983-1997. From October 10, 2012, to October 2014 she was Alaska States Poet Laureate.[5]


Dauenhauer lived in Juneau where she wrote, researched, and volunteered at local schools. She had four children, 13 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.[6]


  • 1980: Humanist of the Year by Alaska Humanities Forum[4]
  • 1989: Co-recipient with Richard Dauenhauer of Alaska's Governor Award for the Arts, Native Alaskan Artist Award[7]
  • 1991: Received the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award[8]
  • May 2001: Received Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from University of Alaska Southeast[9]
  • 2005: Community Spirit Award Honoree, First Peoples Fund[10]
  • 2007: Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian tribes of Alaska recognized her with a lifetime achievement award.[11]
  • 2008: Received the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award for Anooshi Lingit Aani Ka / Russians in Tlingit America: The Battles of Sitka 1802 and 1804.[8]
  • March 2010: Inducted into Alaska Women's Hall of Fame.[11]
  • November 2011: Selected as Indigenous Leadership award honoree by Ecotrust, Salman Nation, Portland, Oregon.[6]
  • 2012 – 2014 – Alaska State Writer Laureate[12]


  • (1983) "Egg Boat." In: Earth Power Coming: Short Fiction in Native American Literature, ed. by Simon J. Ortiz, pp. 155–161. Tsaile: Navajo Community College Press.
  • (1986) "Context and Display in Northwest Coast Art." New Scholar, vol. 10, pp. 419–432.
  • (1988) The Droning Shaman: Poems by Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Haines: The Black Current Press
  • (1990) "The Battles of Sitka, 1802 and 1804, from the Tlingit, Russian, and Other Points of View." In: Russia in North America, ed. by Richard Pierce, pp. 6–24. Kingston, Ontario: Limestone Press.
  • (with Richard Dauenhauer) (eds.) (1981) "Because We Cherish You ...": Sealaska Elders Speak to the Future. Juneau: Sealaska Heritage Foundation.
  • (with Richard Dauenhauer) (eds.) (1987) Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors: Tlingit Oral Narratives. (Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature, vol. 1.) Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • (with Richard Dauenhauer) (eds.) (1990) Haa Tuwanáagu Yís, for Healing Our Spirit: Tlingit Oratory. (Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature, vol. 2.) Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • (with Richard Dauenhauer) (eds.) (1994) Haa Kusteeyí, Our Culture: Tlingit Life Stories. (Classics of Tlingit Oral Literature, vol. 3.) Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • (with Richard Dauenhauer) (1998) 'Technical, emotional and ideological issues in reversing language shift: examples from Southeast Alaska', in Grenoble, L A. & Whaley, L J. Endangered Languages: Language Loss and Community Response. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Nora Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, Lydia Black, eds. (2008). Russians in Tlingit America. University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-295-98601-2.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Gullufsen, Kevin (25 September 2017). "Native scholar, writer laureate Nora Dauenhauer dies at 90". Juneau Empire. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Literary Reading with Alaska Laureates – The Dauenhauers, Oct. 20th". 2013-10-15. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  3. ^ "Dauenhauer, Nora Marks (1927-) | Sealaska Heritage Institute Archives". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  4. ^ a b "Nora Marks Dauenhauer". Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 29 May 2016."Beginning Tlingit"is used all over Southeast, Alaska as well as their other works to teach the Tlingit language and culture.
  5. ^ "Alaska". Main Reading Room. Library of Congress. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Alaska State Writer Laureate". Alaska State Writer Laureate. Alaska State Council on the Arts. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Governor's Arts & Humanities Awards, 1968-2019" (PDF). Retrieved 2019-08-13. External link in |website= (help)
  8. ^ a b "ABA Winners 2018" (PDF). Before Columbus Foundation. 2008. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  9. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". University of Alaska Southeast. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  10. ^ "Nora Marks Dauenhauer". First Peoples Fund. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  11. ^ a b "Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Tlingit poet and Alaska State Writer Laureate, is APU commencement speaker on April 27 – Alaska Pacific University". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  12. ^ "State Writer Laureate". Alaska Humanities Forum. Alaska Humanities Forum. Retrieved 2019-08-13.