Of mixed ancestry, including Laguna Pueblo, Mexican, and European, Leslie Marmon Silko grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation. She has been called the "most accomplished Indian writer of her generation." She attended a local BIA school as a child, but commuted to a Catholic school in Albuquerque as a teenager. She attended the University of New Mexico. While there she decided to take a creative writing class. The class would be the beginning of her career as a writer.
She published her first work "Tony’s Story" in 1969. In 1971 she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and it was the grant that convinced her to drop out of law school and concentrate on her writing. Her first novel Ceremony
was published in 1977 and her second major novel Storyteller
in 1981. In Storyteller
she uses the stories passed on in Native American tradition to recreate stories about her own family.
Silko lived in Tsaile Arizona, and Ketchikan, Alaska and finally returned to the Southwest to become a professor at the University of New Mexico and then at the University of Arizona. In 1981 she was awarded the MacArthur Foundation fellowship. She used the money to support herself and her son while she wrote her most controversial novel, Almanac of the Dead
. The novel deals with many issues related to Native Americans, the most prominent theme being the European conquest of the American Indians.