Bruchac, Joseph, III 1942–

views updated

Bruchac, Joseph, III 1942–

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "brew-shack"; born October 16, 1942, in Saratoga Springs, NY; son of Joseph E., Jr. (a taxidermist and publisher) and Marion (a homemaker and publisher; maiden name, Bowman) Bruchac; married Carol Worthen (a director of a nonprofit organization), June 13, 1964; children: James Edward, Jesse Bowman. Ethnicity: "Native American (Abenaki)/Slovak/English." Education: Cornell University, A.B., 1965; Syracuse University, M.A., 1966; graduate study at State University of New York—Albany, 1971–73; Union Institute of Ohio Graduate School, Ph.D., 1975. Politics: Liberal Democrat. Religion: "Methodist and Native-American spiritual traditions." Hobbies and other interests: Gardening, music, martial arts.

ADDRESSES: Home and Office—Greenfield Review Press, P.O. Box 308, Greenfield Center, NY 12833; fax: 518-583-9741. Agent—Barbara Kouts Agency, P.O. Box 560, Bellport, NY 11713. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: Keta Secondary School, Ghana, West Africa, teacher of English and literature, 1966–69; Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, instructor in creative writing and African and black literatures, 1969–73; University without Walls, coordinator of college program at Great Meadow Correctional Facility, 1974–81; writer and storyteller, 1981–. Greenfield Review Press, Greenfield Center, NY, publisher and editor of Greenfield Review, 1969–; director, Greenfield Review Literary Center, 1981–; musician with Dawn Land Singers, recording stories and music on Abenaki Cultural Heritage and Alnobak, Good Mind Records. Member of adjunct faculty at Hamilton College, 1983, 1985, and 1987, and State University of New York—Albany, 1987 and 1988; storyteller-in-residence at CRC Institute for Arts in Education, 1989–90, and at other institutions, including Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, St. Regis Mohawk Indian School, Seneca Nation School, Onondaga Indian School, Institute of Alaska Native Arts, and Annsville Youth Facility; featured storyteller at festivals and conferences; presents workshops, poetry readings, and storytelling programs. Print Center, member of board of directors, 1975–78; Returning the Gift, national chairperson, 1992; judge of competitions, including PEN Prison Writing Awards, 1977, National Book Award for Translation, 1983, and National Book Award for Poetry, 1995; past member of literature panels, Massachusetts Arts Council, Vermont State Arts Council, Illinois Arts Council, and Ohio Arts Council.

MEMBER: Poetry Society of America, PEN, National Storytelling Association (member of board of directors, 1992–94), Native Writers Circle of the Americas (chairperson, 1992–95), Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, Hudson Valley Writers Guild, Black Crow Network.

AWARDS, HONORS: Poetry fellow, Creative Artists Public Service, 1973 and 1982; fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 1974; editors' fellow, Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines, 1980; Rockefeller fellow, 1982; PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, 1983; American Book Award, 1984, for Breaking Silence; Yaddo resident, 1984 and 1985; Cherokee Nation Prose Award, 1986; fellow, New York State Council on the Arts, 1986; Publishers Marketing Association, Benjamin Franklin Audio Award, 1992, for The Boy Who Lived with the Bears, and Person of the Year Award, 1993; Hope S. Dean Memorial Award for Notable Achievement in Children's Literature, 1993; Mountains and Plains Award, 1995, for A Boy Called Slow; Knickerbocker Award, 1995; Paterson Children's Book Award, 1996, for Dog People; Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award, 1996, for The Boy Who Lived with the Bears; Writer of the Year Award, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, 1998; Storyteller of the Year Award, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, 1998; Lifetime Achievement Award, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, 1999.


Indian Mountain (poems), Ithaca House (Ithaca, NY), 1971.

The Buffalo in the Syracuse Zoo (poems), Greenfield Review Press (Greenfield Center, NY), 1972.

The Poetry of Pop (nonfiction), Dustbooks (Paradise, CA), 1973.

Great Meadow Poems, Dustbooks (Paradise, CA), 1973.

The Manabozho Poems, Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1973.

Turkey Brother and Other Iroquois Folk Tales, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1975.

Flow (poems), Cold Mountain Press, 1975.

The Road to Black Mountain (fiction), Thorp Springs Press (Austin, TX), 1976.

This Earth Is a Drum (poems), Cold Mountain Press, 1976.

The Dreams of Jesse Brown (fiction), Cold Mountain Press, 1978.

Stone Giants and Flying Heads: Adventure Stories of the Iroquois, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1978.

There Are No Trees inside the Prison (poems), Blackberry Press, 1978.

Mu'ndu Wi Go (poems), Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1978.

Entering Onondaga (poems), Cold Mountain Press, 1978.

The Good Message of Handsome Lake (poems), Unicorn Press (Greensboro, NC), 1979.

Translators' Son (poems), Cross-Cultural Communications (Merrick, NY), 1980.

How to Start and Sustain a Literary Magazine, Provision (Austin, TX), 1980.

Ancestry (poems), Great Raven (Fort Kent, ME), 1981.

Remembering the Dawn (poems), Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1983.

Iroquois Stories: Heroes and Heroines, Monsters and Magic, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1985.

The Wind Eagle (traditional stories), Bowman Books, 1985.

Walking with My Sons (poems), Landlocked Press, 1985.

Tracking (poems), Ion Books, 1985.

Near the Mountains (poems), White Pine (Buffalo, NY), 1986.

Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poets, University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ), 1987.

The Faithful Hunter and Other Abenaki Stories, Bowman Books, 1988.

The White Moose (fiction), Blue Cloud Quarterly, 1988.

Langes Gedachtnis/Long Memory (poems), OBEMA (Osnabruck, Germany), 1988.

(With Michael Caduto) Keepers of the Earth, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1989.

(With Michael Caduto) Keepers of the Animals, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1990.

Return of the Sun: Native American Tales from the Eastern Woodlands, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1990.

Native American Stories, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1991.

Hoop Snakes, Hide-Behinds, and Sidehill Winders (folk stories), Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1991.

(With Jonathan London) Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back, Philomel (New York, NY), 1992.

Turtle Meat and Other Stories, Holy Cow! Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1992.

The First Strawberries, Dial (New York, NY), 1993.

Fox Song, Philomel (New York, NY), 1993.

Dawn Land (novel), Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1993.

Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear (traditional stories), Bridgewater (New York, NY), 1993.

Native American Animal Stories, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1993.

The Native American Sweat Lodge (traditional stories), Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1993.

The Great Ball Game, Dial (New York, NY), 1994.

(With Michael Caduto) Keepers of the Night, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1994.

(With Michael Caduto) Keepers of Life, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1994.

(With Gayle Ross) The Girl Who Married the Moon (traditional stories), Bridgewater (New York, NY), 1994.

A Boy Called Slow, Philomel (New York, NY), 1995.

The Earth under Sky Bear's Feet, Philomel (New York, NY), 1995.

Gluskabe and the Four Wishes, Cobblehill Books (Boston, MA), 1995.

(With Gayle Ross) The Story of the Milky Way, Dial (New York, NY), 1995.

Dog People: Native Dog Stories, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1995.

Long River (novel), Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1995.

Native Wisdom, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1995.

Native Plant Stories, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1995.

The Boy Who Lived with the Bears: And Other Iroquois Stories, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places, illustrated by Thomas Locker, Har-court (San Diego, CA), 1996.

The Maple Thanksgiving, Celebration (Nobleboro, ME), 1996.

Children of the Longhouse (novel), Dial (New York, NY), 1996.

Roots of Survival: Native American Storytelling and the Sacred, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1996.

The Circle of Thanks (traditional stories), Bridgewater (New York, NY), 1996.

Four Ancestors: Stories, Songs, and Poems, Bridgewater (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Michael Caduto) Native American Gardening, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 1996.

(With Melissa Fawcett) Makiawisug: Gift of the Little People, Little People (Warsaw, IN), 1997.

Many Nations: An Alphabet of Native America, Troll Publications (Mahwah, NJ), 1997.

Bowman's Store (autobiography), Dial (New York, NY), 1997.

Eagle Song (novel), Dial (New York, NY), 1997.

Lasting Echoes: An Oral History of Native American People, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1997.

Tell Me a Tale: A Book about Storytelling, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1997.

The Arrow over the Door (fiction; for children), illustrated by James Watling, Dial (New York, NY), 1998.

Buffalo Boy (biography), illustrated by Baviera, Silver Whistle Books (San Diego, CA), 1998.

The Heart of a Chief: A Novel (for children), Dial (New York, NY), 1998.

The Waters Between: A Novel of the Dawn Land, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1998.

(With James Bruchac) When the Chenoo Howls: Native-American Tales of Terror (traditional stories), illustrated by William Sauts Netamu'xwe Bock, Walker (New York, NY), 1998.

No Borders (poems), Holy Cow! Press (Duluth, MN), 1999.

Seeing the Circle (autobiography), photographs by John Christian Fine, R.C. Owen (Katonah, NY), 1999.

The Trail of Tears, illustrated by Diana Magnuson, Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

Trails of Tears, Paths of Beauty, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2000.

(With James Bruchac) Native American Games and Stories, illustrated by Kayeri Akwek, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 2000.

Crazy Horse's Vision, illustrated by S.D. Nelson, Lee & Low Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Pushing Up the Sky: Seven Native American Plays for Children, illustrated by Teresa Flavin, Dial (New York, NY), 2000.

Sacajawea: The Story of Bird Woman and the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Silver Whistle (San Diego, CA), 2000.

Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, illustrated by Greg Shed, Silver Whistle (San Diego, CA), 2000.

(With James Bruchac) How Chipmunk Got His Stripes, illustrated by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey, Dial (New York, NY), 2001.

Skeleton Man, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

The Journal of Jesse Smoke: A Cherokee Boy, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.

Seasons of the Circle: A Native American Year, illustrated by Robert F. Goetzel, Bridgewater (New York, NY), 2002.

Navajo Long Walk: The Tragic Story of a Proud People's Forced March from Their Homeland, illustrated by Shonto Begay, National Geographic Society (Washington, DC), 2002.

Foot of the Mountain, Holy Cow! Press (Duluth, MN), 2002.

The Winter People, Dial (New York, NY), 2002.

Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 2003.

Pocahontas (novel), Silver Whistle (Orlando, FL), 2003.

(With James Bruchac) Turtle's Race with Beaver: A Traditional Seneca Story, pictures by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2003.

Above the Line (poetry), West End Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2003.

Hidden Roots (novel), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.

Jim Thorpe's Bright Path (biography), illustrated by S.D. Nelson, Lee & Low Books (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Thomas Locker) Raccoon's Last Race: A Traditional Abenaki Story, pictures by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey, Dial Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

(With James Bruchac) Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder, Fulcrum Press (Golden, CO), 2004.

A Code Talker's Story, Dial Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Dark Pond, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004.

Also editor of anthologies, including The Last Stop: Prison Writings from Comstock Prison, 1973; Words from the House of the Dead: Prison Writing from Soledad, 1974; Aftermath: Poetry in English from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, 1977; The Next World: Thirty-two Third World American Poets, 1978; Songs from Turtle Island: Thirty-two American Indian Poets, [Yugoslavia], 1982; Songs from This Earth on Turtle's Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry, 1983; Breaking Silence: Contemporary Asian-American Poets, 1983; The Light from Another Country: Poetry from American Prisons, 1984; North Country: An Anthology of Contemporary Writing from the Adirondacks and the Upper Hudson Valley, 1986; New Voices from the Longhouse: Contemporary Iroquois Writing, 1989; Raven Tells Stories: Contemporary Alaskan Native Writing, 1990; Singing of Earth, 1993; Returning the Gift, 1994; Smoke Rising, 1995; and Native Wisdom, 1995. Audio-tapes include Iroquois Stories, Alnobak, Adirondack Tall Tales, and Abenaki Cultural Heritage, all Good Mind Records; and Gluskabe Stories, Yellow Moon Press. Work represented in more than a hundred anthologies, including Carriers of the Dream Wheel; Come to Power; For Neruda, for Chile; New Worlds of Literature; and Paris Review Anthology. Contributor of more than three hundred stories, poems, articles, and reviews to magazines, including American Poetry Review, Akwesasne Notes, Beloit Poetry Journal, Chariton Review, Kalliope, Mid-American Review, Nation, Poetry Northwest, River Styx, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Editor, Trojan Horse, 1964, Greenfield Review, 1969–87, Prison Writing Review, 1976–85, and Studies in American Indian Literature, 1989–; student editor, Epoch, 1964–65; member of editorial board, Parabola, Storytelling Journal, MELUS, and Obsidian. Translator from Abenaki, Ewe, Iroquois, and Spanish. Cross-Cultural Communications, member of editorial board.

ADAPTATIONS: Several of Bruchac's books have been recorded on audio tapes, including Keepers of the Earth, Keepers of the Animals, Keepers of Life, and Dawn Land, all released by Fulcrum; and The Boy Who Lived with the Bears, Caedmon/Parabola.

SIDELIGHTS: Joseph Bruchac III, according to Publishers Weekly contributor Sybil Steinberg, ranks as "perhaps the best-known contemporary Native American storyteller." Bruchac draws on his heritage for his critically acclaimed collections, including Flying with the Eagle, Racing the Great Bear: Stories from Native North America and The Girl Who Married the Moon: Stories from Native North America. These stories also influence Bruchac's novel Dawn Land, about the Abenaki living in the American northeast before the arrival of Columbus. "His stories," Steinberg concluded, "are often poignant, funny, ironic—and sometimes all three at once."

Dawn Land introduced readers to the character of Young Hunter. In a sequel to this novel, 1995's Long River, Bruchac again features Young Hunter in a series of adventures, as he battles a wooly mammoth and an evil giant. As with the earlier work, Long River incorporates actual myths from the author's Abenaki heritage. Bruchac's children's stories, like his novels, entertain and educate young readers by interweaving Native American history and myth. The biography A Boy Called Slow recounts the story of a Lakota boy named Slow, who would later be known as Sitting Bull. Bruchac's ability to "gently correct" stereotypes of Native-American culture was noted by Carolyn Polese in the School Library Journal. In The Great Ball Game he relates the importance of ball games in Native-American tradition as a substitute for war, tying neatly together history and ethics lessons in "an entertaining tale," commented Polese. He combines several versions of a Native-American tale in Gluskabe and the Four Wishes.

"I was born in 1942, in Saratoga Springs, New York, during October, that month the Iroquois call the Moon of Falling Leaves," Bruchac once explained. "My writing and my interests reflect my mixed ancestry, Slovak on one side and Native American (Abenaki) and English on the other. Aside from attending Cornell University and Syracuse and three years of teaching in West Africa, I've lived all of my life in the small Adirondack foothills town of Greenfield Center in a house built by my grandfather.

"Much of my writing and my life relates to the problem of being an American. While in college I was active in civil rights work and in the anti-war movement…. I went to Africa to teach—but more than that, to be taught. It showed me many things. How much we have as Americans and take for granted. How much our eyes refuse to see because they are blinded to everything in a man's face except his color. And, most importantly, how human people are everywhere—which may be the one grace that can save us all.

"I write poetry, fiction, and some literary criticism and have been fortunate enough to receive recognition in all three areas. After returning from Ghana in 1969, my wife, Carol, and I started the Greenfield Review and the Greenfield Review Press. Since 1975, I've been actively involved in storytelling, focusing on northeastern Native-American tales and the songs and traditions of the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, and I am frequently a featured performer at storytelling gatherings. I've also done a great deal of work in teaching and helping start writing workshops in American prisons. I believe that poetry is as much a part of human beings as is breath—and that, like breath, poetry links us to all other living things and is meant to be shared.

"My writing is informed by several key sources. One of these is nature, another is the Native-American experience (I'm part Indian)…. I like to work outside, in the earthmother's soil, with my hands … but maintain my life as an academic for a couple of reasons: it gives me time to write (sometimes) and it gives me a chance to share my insights into the beautiful and all-too-fragile world of human life and living things we have been granted. Which is one of the reasons I write—not to be a man apart, but to share."

Bruchac has continued to write prolifically. In his 2003 book Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling, he relates stories from many different Indian nations to illustrated their core values and culture. Writing in the School Library Journal, S.K. Joiner noted that, "Part cultural lesson, part history, and part autobiography, the book contains a wealth of information," while Booklist contributor Deborah Donovan dubbed it a "thought-provoking work, enriched with valuable annotated reading lists." Bruchac has also continued his work in picture books for children, including several biographies of Native Americans and others. In Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder, he presents a biography of the author of Silent Spring and one of the people credited with inspiring the environmental movement in the 1960s. Writing in Booklist, Carolyn Phelan noted that "Bruchac writes lyrically about [Carson's] … love of nature, particularly the ocean, and concludes with an appreciation of her impact on the environment." Another 2004 picture-book publication, Jim Thorpe's Bright Path, tells of the famed Native-American athlete. School Library Journal contributor Liza Graybill noted, "The theme of overcoming personal and societal obstacles to reach success is strongly expressed."

In an interview with Eliza T. Dresang on the Cooperative Children's Book Center Web site, Bruchac noted that he does not expect to run out of things to write about. He told Dresang: "The last thirty years of my life in particular have been blessed with so many … experiences and by the generosity of so many Native people who have shared their stories and their understanding of their land with me that I know I can never live long enough to share everything I've learned. But I'll try."



Alaska, December, 1992, p. 74.

Albany Times Union, June 1, 1980.

Booklist, February 15, 1993, p. 1075; July, 1993, p. 1969; October 15, 1993, p. 397; November 15, 1993, p. 632; December 15, 1993, p. 749; August, 1994, p. 2017; September, 1994, p. 55; October 15, 1994, p. 377; December 15, 1994, p. 756; September 1, 1997, p. 69; September 15, 1997, pp. 234, 237; December 5, 1997, p. 688; February 15, 1998; October 1, 2002, Heather Hepler, review of Sea sons of the Circle: A Native American Year, p. 316, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of The Winter People, p. 322; April 15, 2003, Deborah Donovan, review of Our Stories Remember: American Indian History, Culture, and Values through Storytelling, p. 1444; September 15, 2003, John Peters, review of Turtle's Race with Beaver, p. 244, Ed Sullivan, review of Pocahontas, p. 229; July, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder, p. 1838.

Bulletin, April, 1995, p. 265.

English Journal, January, 1996, p. 87.

Horn Book, January-February, 1994, p. 60; March-April, 1994, p. 209; November-December, 1994, p. 738; March-April, 1995, p. 203; September-October, 1995, p. 617.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 1996, p. 445; May 1, 1996, p. 685; December 1, 1996, p. 1734.

Publishers Weekly, March 15, 1993, p. 68; June 28, 1993, p. 76; July 19, 1993, pp. 254, 255; August 29, 1994, p. 79; January 9, 1995, p. 64; July 31, 1995, p. 68; July 14, 1997, p. 83; September 8, 1997, p. 78; November 24, 1997, p. 75; May 31, 2004, review of Jim Thorpe's Bright Path, p. 76.

School Library Journal, March, 1993, p. 161; August, 1993, p. 205; September, 1993, pp. 222, 238; February, 1994, p. 78; November, 1994, p. 112; December, 1994, p. 96; February, 1995, p. 104; October, 1995, Carolyn Polese, review of A Boy Called Slow, p. 145; July, 2002, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Navajo Long Walk: The Tragic Story of a Proud People's Forced March from Their Homeland, p. 131; November, 2002, Rita Soltan, review of The Winter People, p. 154; July, 2003, S.K. Joiner, review of Our Stories Remember, p. 155; May, 2004, Sean George, review of Pocahontas, p. 140; June, 2004, Liza Graybill, review of Jim Thorpe's Bright Path, p. 124.

Silver Whistle, spring-summer, 2000, p. 67.

Voice Literary Supplement, November, 1991, p. 27.

Wilson Library Bulletin, June, 1993, p. 103; September, 1993, p. 87; April, 1995, p. 110.


Cooperative Children's Book Center Web site, (October 22, 19-99), Eliza T. Dresang, "An Interview with Joseph Bruchac."

Joseph Bruchac Storyteller and Writer, (September 16, 2003).

About this article

Bruchac, Joseph, III 1942–

Updated About content Print Article