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Leslie Marmon Silko (born Leslie Marmon; born March 5, 1948) is an American writer.
A Laguna Pueblo woman, she is one of the first figures in Kenneth Lincoln's Native American Renaissance. Silko was the first recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant in 1981 and the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
She presently lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Leslie Marmon Silko was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Leland Marmon, a noted photographer, and Mary Virginia Leslie, a tutor, and grew up on the Laguna Pueblo Indian reservation.
Silko, a mixed-race Laguna Pueblo Indian (a Keres-speaking tribe), Anglo American, and Mexican American, and she emphasizes her Laguna roots in her writing (citation needed).
Silko grew up on the edge of pueblo culture both physically and figuratively, as she was not allowed to partake in any of the pueblo's religious traditions or enroll in any of the pueblo's faith societies.
Silko and her two children were cared for by their grandmother, Lillie Stagner, and great-grandmother Helen Romero, even as her parents were working. Silko learned a great deal about the Laguna people from her grandmother, Susie, her aunt Susie, and her grandfather Hank during her childhood. Silko has always identified with her Laguna roots, saying, in an interview with Alan Velie, "I am of mixed-breed ancestry, but what I know is Laguna."
Silko's education included preschool through the fourth grade at Laguna BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) School, as well as Albuquerque Indian School (a private day school), the latter requiring a day's drive by her father to avoid the boarding-school experience. Silko earned a BA in English Literature from the University of New Mexico in 1969; she briefly attended the University of New Mexico law school before starting her literary career full time.
Early literary work
Silko's short story "The Man to Send Rain Clouds" was shortlisted for a National Endowment for the Humanities Discovery Grant at the University of Chicago, earned early literary acclaim. The tale is also included in anthologies.
Silko wrote and published numerous short stories and poems that were included in her Laguna Woman (1974).
Cynthia's other publications include: Laguna Woman: Poems (1974), Ceremony (1977), Storyteller (1981), and With the Delicacy and Strength of Lace (1985), James Wright. The Almanac of the Dead, a novel, appeared in 1991, and a collection of essays, Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, Essays on Native American Life Today, was published in 1996.
In collaboration with novelist Larry McMurtry, Silko produced a screenplay based on the comic book Honkytonk Sue, which has not been released.
She married Richard C. Chapman in 1965 and they had a son, Robert Chapman, before divorcing in 1969.
She and John Silko were married in 1971. Casimir Silko, their son, had a son. This union also ended in divorce.