Paula Gunn Allen, born in 1939 in New Mexico, was the daughter of a Lebanese-American man and a Laguna-Sioux-Scotch woman. She once described herself as a “multicultural event.”
Her early education was at mission schools; she went on to earn several advanced degrees including a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico in 1976.
Allen was a pioneer of Native American literary scholarship. With the publication of her book, The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions (1986), she helped define the canon of Native American literature.
Allen was also a prolific writer of poems, fiction and essays publishing 17 books during her lifetime. She received several awards for her work including the American Book Award, and the Hubbell Medal.
Twice married and twice divorced, Allen identified herself as a lesbian at one point, but later said she was a “serial bisexual.”
She died in 2008 of lung cancer. She was 68.-Heidi Durrow
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.