Skip to main content

Luci Tapahonso Papers

Identifier: MSS-580-BC

Scope and Content

The bulk of this collection consists of working papers, drafts, and typescripts of poems written by Luci Tapahonso. There are several manuscripts of poetry collections, including A Breeze Swept Through and One More Shiprock Night. Tapahonso's essays, short stories, and plays are also included in the collection, as well as a small component of class materials, correspondence, interviews, and event programs. Luci Tapahonso writes in English and Navajo.

The collection spans Luci Tapahonso's career from the time she was a student at the University of New Mexico (1976) until 1989. It is anticipated that there will be additions to the collection.


  • 1976- ongoing

Language of Materials

English Navajo or Navaho.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publications or distribution.

Biographical Information

Photo by Cynthia Farah Haines. Part of Writers of the Southwest Collection, PICT 986-008

Luci Tapahonso was born on November 8, 1953 in Shiprock, New Mexico, a town located on the Navajo reservation. She spent most of her school years at the Navajo Methodist Mission School, a boarding school in Farmington, 30 miles from Shiprock. She graduated from Shiprock High School in 1971. Following a few semesters at Phoenix College studying accounting, Tapahonso enrolled at the University of New Mexico in 1976, earning her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Creative Writing in 1980 and 1983, respectively. Tapahonso held teaching positions at San Felipe Pueblo Day School, at the University of New Mexico. She currently teaches at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Her interest in reading and writing was nurtured throughout her childhood; by the time she graduated high school, Luci was well on her way to becoming a writer. In the early to mid-1970's, Tapahonso wrote for newspapers including the Farmington Daily Times, the Navajo Times, Americans Before Columbus, and Akwesasne Notes. Her first short story was written for an English class taught by Leslie Silko at UNM. Silko told Tapahonso that she was a wonderful and gifted writer, and encouraged her to write more and consider writing for a living. Tapahonso took this advice seriously, changed her major to creative writing and began sending material out for publication.

Luci Tapahonso considers her poetry and writing an extension of her experience. Her sense of place is derived from her roots in Shiprock, N.M. Her point of view is that of a Navajo woman in contemporary times, with an americanized life, but rooted in an "un-american" tradition. Politics, social issues, racism, and economics permeate her writing. Luci Tapahonso's goal in relation to her writing is to keep Navajo culture intact and dynamic.


1 box (.35 cu. ft.)

Related Material

Writers of the Southwest [Photographs] Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico. David Dunaway Writing the Southwest research and recordings Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico


Contact Information

  1. Center for Southwest Research
  2. Zimmerman Library
  3. University of New Mexico
  4. Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131-1466
  5. Phone: 505-277-6451
  6. Fax: 505-277-0530
  7. Email:
  8. URL:


Finding Aid of the Luci Tapahonso Papers 1976-
Processed by B. Silbergleit
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 580 BC::Luci Tapahonso Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss580bc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131