Paula Gunn Allen

Author: Paula Gun Allen

Profile: Paula Marie Francis popularly known as Paula Gun Allen was a Native American novelist, poet, professor, activist and literary critic. She belonged to a mixed race of Arab-American, Native American and European-American descent and identified more with the Laguna Pueblo (nationality) people from her mother’s side and her childhood years. She was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States and died in Fort Bragg, California, United States.

Paula Gun Allen has been identified always closed with the Laguna with whom she grew up and spent her childhood years. She attended a mission school and later in 1957 graduated from, ‘Sisters of Charity’ a boarding school located in Albuquerque. Paula Gun Allen received the BA and MFA degree in creative writing from the University of Oregon. She received her PhD degree at the University of New Mexico where she took up a job as professor and then started researching on tribal religions.

A major study on the role of women n American Indian traditions was published by her in 1986, in addition to her literary work. In her work the argument is that due to their own patriarchal societies, the role of women in their native life accounts has been de-emphasized by the Europeans. Scholarly work by the Native American and feminist writers was stimulated with the major study published by Paula Gun Allen.

Writing style: Paula Gun Allen drew from the Laguna Pueblo’s oral traditions while writing not only her fiction poetry but also many essays on its theme. Four collections of Native American contemporary works and traditional stories were edited by her besides which, she has written two biographies of Native American women.

Published Texts:


1983 – The Woman Who Owned The Shadows


1962-1995 (1997) – Life is a Fatal Disease

1979-1987 (1988) – Skins and Bones: Poems

1982 – Shadow Country

1981 – A Cannon Between My Knees

1981 – Star Child: Poems

1978 – Coyote’s Daylight Trip

1974 – Blind Lion Poems (The Blind Lion)

1991 – Grandmother


2oo4 – Pocahontas: Medicine Woman, Spy, Entrepreneur, Diplomat

1996 – As Long As the Rivers Flow: The Stories of Nine Native Americans

Awards and Acknowledgements:

1990 – American Book Award by the Before Columbus Foundation

2001 – The Hubbel Medal, the Native American Prize for Literature, the Susan Koppelman Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americas

1999 – The J. Hubbell Medal for American Literature from the Modern Language Association

Lannan Literary Fellowship

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