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Nature's Writers Trail: Awiakta

Library Guide for the Nature Writer's Trail.

Marilou Awiakta
January 24, 1936 -

Marilou Awiakta is a poet whose perspective fuses her Cherokee, Scots-Irish, and Appalachian heritage with experiences of growing up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the atomic frontier. She is internationally known for her poetry and cultural essays. Her work has been featured in magazines, literary journals, and various anthologies of literature around the world. 

  • "When the people call Earth 'Mother,' they take with love and with love give back so that all may live."

  • "Under reverent, patient care, the wild seed gradually relinquishes its protective husk and entrust its reproductive life to human hands. (thus) this sacred law and covenant with Mother Earth; Respectful care brings abundance. If you take, you must give back - Return the gift."

  • "Beauty is no threat to the wary who treat the mountain in its way, the copperhead in its way, and the deer in its way, knowing that nature is the human heart made tangible."

  • Her last name "Awiakta" means "Eye of the deer."
  • She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee in 1958.
  • She has been featured in the PBS film Telling Tales and in Appalshop's Program for National Public Radio, “Tell It On the Mountain: Women Writers of Appalachia.”
  • She serves on the boards of the Tennessee Writers' Alliance, the Tennessee Humanities Council, and the National Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

  • Abiding Appalachia: Where Mountain and Atom Meet (1978)
  • Rising Fawn and the Fire Mystery (1983)
  • Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother's Wisdom (1994)

  • Distinguished Tennessee Writer Award, 1989
  • Appalachian Heritage Writer's Award, Shepard College, 2000

Selu: Seeking the Corn-Mother's Wisdom

The Corn-Mother, called Selu by the Cherokee, is a living spirit to Native Americans. By sharing a Cherokee writer's path to the Corn-Mother, the reader discovers spiritual tools for facing the important issues of our times--from the nuclear dilemma to the devastation of our environment.

Abiding Appalachia (Interlibrary Loan)

'Does humanity have enough reverence for life to cope with the atom? Poet Marilou Awiakta poses this question in this book, which was first published in 1978, shortly before the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.

Rising Fawn and the Fire Mystery (Interlibrary Loan)

The inspiring children's story of a young Choctaw girl who wakes up in a new world but manages to keep the old ways close at hand.

Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia (Interlibrary Loan)

A landmark anthology that brings together the work of 105 Appalachian women writers, including Dorothy Allison, Harriette Simpson Arnow, Annie Dillard, Nikki Giovanni, Denise Giardina, Barbara Kingsolver, Jayne Anne Phillips, Janice Holt Giles, George Ella Lyon, Sharyn McCrumb, and Lee Smith. Editors Sandra L. Ballard and Patricia L. Hudson offer a diverse sampling of time periods and genres, established authors and emerging voices.

Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry (Interlibrary Loan)

This book is the first collection of essays on the genre, bring poetry out from under the shadow of fiction in the study of Native American literature. Speak to Me Words is a stimulating blend of classic articles and original pieces that reflect the energy of modern American Indian literary studies. 

Her Words

Features the work of Awiakta.

Little Deer and Mother Earth | Native American Culture | PBS LearningMedia

In this video Marilou Awiakta, of Cherokee/Appalachian heritage, tells a traditional Cherokee story in which humans are killing too many of their animal relatives, threatening the delicate balance of nature. Little Deer leads the animals in taking action, teaching the lesson that people should take "only what you need with respect and gratitude."