Deborah Miranda – Chumash

Published on January 29, 2013 by Amy

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Deborah Miranda
Deborah Miranda

Deborah Miranda is a Native American writer and poet. Her father, Alfred Edward Robles Mirada is from the Esselen and Chumash people, native to the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez/Monterery, California area. Her mother, Madgel Eleanor (Yeoman) Miranda was of French and Jewish ancestry.

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Miranda was born at UCLA hospital in October 1961, and raised in and around Los Angeles, California. At the age of three, her parents divorced and her father began 8 years of incarceration at San Quentin. When Miranda was 5, her mother moved her to Washington State. Upon her father’s release from prison, her parents reunited for about 5 years; although they later separated, both parents continued working to re-establish tribal ties and reunite tribal members. The Esselen Nation is currently petitioning the federal government for recognition.

Miranda’s mother, Madgel E. Miranda, died in November 2001. Her father, Alfred E. Miranda, died in June 2009.

Deborah Miranda and her partner Margo Solod live in Lexington, Virginia, where Miranda is an Associate Professor at Washington and Lee University. The couple has three adult children and one grandchild.


Deborah Miranda earned a B.S. in Teaching Moderate Special Needs from Wheelock College in 1983. Much later, Miranda earned her Ph.D. in English at age 40 from the University of Washington in 2001. She taught at Pacific Lutheran University for three years. Miranda is currently Associate Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, where she teaches Creative Writing (poetry), Native American Literatures, Women’s Literature, Poetry as Literature, and composition.

Deborah Miranda was selected for the 2007-2008 Institute of American Cultures (IAC) Visiting Scholars Award at the University of California – Los Angeles. She researched and taught at UCLA during her sabbatical.

Miranda is the author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir from Heyday Books (2012). She is also the author of two poetry collections and numerous academic essays. Miranda’s poetry has been published in the Bellingham Review, Bellowing Ark, California Quarterly, Calyx, Callaloo, Cimarron Review, News From Native California, Poets On, Raven Chronicles, Sojurner, Weber Studies Journal, West Wind Review, Yellow Medicine Review and Wilderness.


Miranda was awarded a Lenfest Sabbatical Award by Washington and Lee University for the 2011-2012 year.

Along with Qwo-Li Driskill, Daniel Heath Justice and Lisa Tatonetti, Miranda co-edited Sovereign Erotics: An Anthology of Two-Spirit Literature in 2011 (U of Arizona Press), which won a Silver Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and was a finalist for the anthology category at Lambda Literary Awards of the same year.

Miranda was selected for the 2007-2008 Institute of American Cultures (IAC) Visiting Scholars Award at the University of California – Los Angeles.

The Zen of La Llorona was nominated for the Lambda Literary Award in 2005.

In 2001 Miranda received the Connie Leach Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in achieving a Doctoral Degree from the Seattle Indian Services Commission. In 2000, she was named Writer of the Year for Poetry for her book, Indian Cartography, by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers. She also received a Hedgebrook Writers Residency that year.

Miranda received the First Book Awards’ Diane Decorah Award for Poetry in 1997 from the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas. In 1995, she was the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference Prizewinner in poetry. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 1994. In 1993, she won the 49th Parallel Poetry Prize and obtained a Tacoma Arts Commission Grant to plan and carry out a day long arts workshop for mothers.

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