Published on June 1, 2014 by Amy
Marilou Awiakta (born January 24, 1936, Knoxville, Tennessee) is an Eastern Band Cherokee author. She is renowned for writing several books that blend stories, essays and poetry.
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Marilou Awiakta is the seventh generation of her family to grow up in Appalachia, mostly in East Tennessee. Since 1730, her Cherokee and Scots-Irish family has lived as a “designated family” in the mountainous area of the state.
She graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1958 receiving a B.A. magna cum laude, in both English and French. She worked as a civilian liaison officer and translator for the U.S. Air Force at Laon-Couvron Air Base, France from 1964-1967.
She worked in the Arts-In-Schools program in Memphis, Tennessee, and formed poetry workshops in the Women’s Prison. She was co-founder of the Far Away Cherokee Association which is now the Native American Intertribal Association. She lives in Memphis, with her husband, Paul Thompson. They have three children.
Abiding Appalachia: Where Mountain and Atom Meet. Memphis: Saint Luke’s Press, 1978. Rpt. Bell Buckle, TN: Iris Press, 1995. 71 pp. Rpt. 2006 Pocahontas Press, 65 pp. illustrated with Afterword by Parks Lanier, Jr. Now available from Pocahontas Press, Jane L. Abraham, owner, 304 Royal Lane, Blacksburg, VA 24060.Phone 540-230-0981. Poetry that weaves together Cherokee history, the legend of Little Deer, memories of growing up in Oak Ridge (where the atom was split in the 1940s), and thoughts on family, society, and the land.
Awiakta’s poetry is analysed at length in Our Fire Survives the Storm by Daniel Heath Justice (Cherokee Nation).