Literary Genres
Historical Maps
Geographical Features
Linguistics & Anthropology
Student Projects
Explorations & Questions

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Contemporary Native American Writing from Sun Tracks



Tucson & London

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sun Tracks: A Brief History and Checklist

In January 1971, three Navajo students from the University of Arizona -- Carol Kirk, Orville McKinley, and David Jackson -- gave a public program on "the life of the contemporary Indian" at the Tucson Public Library. Advertising suggests that the program responded to the rising tide of public interest in American Indians. In the way the students approached the Tucson Public Library presentation they demonstrated their engagement with the local, regional, and national Indian movements of their time. They showed slides of living conditions on the Navajo reservation, of a demonstration protesting the exploitation of Indians at the Gallup Ceremonial, and of the Indian takeover of Alcatraz Island in California. It was at the end of this discussion that they chose to announce plans for a new "American Indian literary quarterly" that Carol Kirk would edit. (Arizona Daily Star, Jan. 17, 1971.)

Support for the students' plans at the University of Arizona came from many people. An important early patron was Dr. Edward P. Dozier, a Tewa Indian from Santa Clara Pueblo, cultural anthropologist, and professor of anthropology at the University of Arizona from 1964 until his too-early death in 1971. Dr. Dozier worked hard during his years at the University of Arizona to found an American Indian studies program and to attract and retain Indian students at the university. He was active in soliciting support for a literary magazine, and with the help of Dr. Bernard "Bunny" Fontana, was able to secure some initial funding through the Doris Duke Oral History Project. Dr. Dozier's daughter, Anya, would later become a student at the University of Arizona and would work with us as a member of the Sun Tracks editorial committee. Following Dr. Dozier, a board of advisors played an important role in helping the students to launch their literary project. The board included, among others, Dr. Fontana, who was with the Arizona State Museum; Dr. Arthur Kay, Virginia Williams, and Dr. Cecil Robinson, all faculty members in the Department of English; and Arline Hobson, a special advisor to American Indian students from the Dean of Students Office.

The following declaration of strength and continuance opened the first issue. It is all we have by way of explaining the name the students chose for their project.

the Track of the Sun
across the Sky
leaves its shining message,
us who are here,
showing us we are not alone,
we are yet ALIVE!
And this Fire . . .
Our fire . . .
Shall not die!
Atoni 1971 (Choctaw)

Carol Kirk edited the first issue, which was published on August 10, 1971, with help from Armstrong, McKinley, George White (Navajo), and Audrey Peterson (Navajo-Papago). The group believed that the quarterly was "the first American Indian literary publication" (Tucson Daily Citizen, Aug. 10, 1971). The founding students announced their purpose as follows: " [Sun Tracks] shall be a literary quarterly, which we hope shall prove to be a vehicle for the creative expression of the American Indian people, particularly Indian students. It is our intent that the magazine shall reflect all the American Indian aesthetic heritage, with materials coming from wherever 'The People' may be." To this end, they continued, "we actively solicit contributions from authors and artists, both Indian and non-Indian. The theme of such contributions should relate to some facet of the cultural heritage of the American Indian, either traditional or contemporary."

The momentum of the founding group carried through the publication of two additional issues of volume 1 in the fall of 1971 and the winter of 1971-72. These handsome productions combined strong student writing; the work of Indian writers, such as Gerald Vizenor and N. Scott Momaday, who were then emerging on the national scene; and a selection of photographs and illustrations. During the spring term in 1972, many of the founding students graduated or moved on to other work. A new group of students took up the work for a time. Under the editorship of Faithe C. Seota, they published a fourth and final issue of volume 1 late in 1972.

During the first year I taught at the University of Arizona, 1974-75, I mentioned my admiration for the four issues of Sun Tracks: An American Indian Literary Quarterly that had appeared in 1971-1972. Some of the students who had worked on the magazine were still around: could I help them find a way to continue publication? We talked and invited others to join the effort and talked more. Some, like Gerri Kearns (Navajo) and Rosita Ruiz (Tohono O'odham), had worked on the first issues. Others had just arrived on campus and were new to the project: Agnes Tso (Navajo), Dan Brudevold (Colville), Dolly Noche (Zuni), Marlene Hoskie (Navajo), and Mike Ladeyo (Hopi). The "we" that became the Sun Tracks editorial committee formed that way.

During this time, 1975 to 1978, Sun Tracks was a project and a place name, as in "Let's go over to Sun Tracks and see what's happening." Where we came together as an editorial committee was around the table: reading manuscripts, joking, arguing over what to accept. There was a lot of laughter, sometimes very intense discussion. People came and went. There seemed to be room at the table for everyone who wanted to be there. We were spared the internecine squabbles that too frequently accompany such projects. Several writers expressed their support early on-Simon Ortiz and Leslie Marmon Silko are two that come immediately to mind. We picked up some help and plenty of advice from people around Tucson. Each issue we published seemed stronger to us than the last. We had the thrill of an expanding audience, accented once in a while by an appreciative note and a subscription from some distant place. The Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM) helped us with a couple of small grants. That led to another small grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and an invitation from Ishmael Reed to participate in a distribution project he organized called the Before Columbus Cluster. Our print run of 500 in 1974 grew to 3,000 by 1978.

Students graduated or moved on, and new ones joined the effort. Victor Masayesva, Jr., David Begay, Cathy Gallegos, and especially Marie Levy energized the final year or two that we published as a magazine. With Marie writing letters to stimulate submissions, we heard from more writers, had some more memorable talks around the table-one with Vine Deloria, Jr., we published in volume 4, another with Frank Waters we published in volume 5. During these years our Sun Tracks office became a supportive home place for Indian students. Dan Brudevold, president of the American Indian Student Club and an active member of the Sun Tracks editorial committee, told a reporter: "It's tough for a lot of the Indian kids to feel a part of the University. When you come from a reservation where you know everyone, this place can be overwhelming. Sun Tracks has made a lot of us feel we made a contribution" (Arizona Alumnus 55 [Dec. 1977]: 9)

I remember clearly the events that signaled the end of this phase. We had just published volume 5, an issue graced by Marie's calligraphy and a startling photograph of a Hopi clown boy taken by Owen Seumptewa, and we were feeling pretty good about what we were doing. Then a card came from a metropolitan Indian editor. "Thanks for sending the latest Sun Tracks," the editor wrote. "This one is so beautiful I don't think I'll throw it away. We'll keep it around the office." The perception of what we had been doing as ephemeral was jolting. It seemed that literary magazines were perceived, even by others in the world of little magazines, like newspapers-news today, discarded tomorrow.

About the same time, I recall that there was a lot of discussion, too, about audience: Who were we trying to reach? Were literary magazines the best way to reach readers in the Indian communities all around us? What about doing something that might be more directly aimed at readers in classrooms? How about publishing bilingually in native languages?

We decided to try a book-length project with a focus on four tribes in our area: the Hopi, Navajo, Tohono O'odham, and Yaqui. We recruited editorial committees for each of the four from the students and faculty at the university and urged everybody to go all-out on this one. We made an effort to represent a range of ways that language is used imaginatively in Indian communities. That meant opening up the idea of "Native American literature" to include not just short stories and poems but also songs and stories from the oral tradition, essays, and autobiographical narratives. Ofelia Zepeda led the way in urging that we recognize writing in native languages as creative, worthy of publication for its own sake, not just as an instrument for the pursuit of linguistics or anthropology. We made a special effort to find and to publish imaginative writing in each of the four native languages represented in the collection. The result was Sun Tracks Six, The South Corner of Time.

The reception of this publication was very positive, both from audiences on the four reservations and from audiences beyond. We had to reprint quickly to meet demand and while the second printing was selling out, we approached the University of Arizona Press with a proposal to reprint South Corner as a book. There was reluctance. "We don't publish literature," they said at first. Finally, "because the subject matter has to do with Indians, and anthropology is a strength of our list," they decided South Corner was an acceptable addition and the agreement was made. The situation was another stark example of the "Indians are anthropology, not literature" categorization that pervaded university presses and much of the rest of the publishing world into the mid-1980s. Be that as it may, we were happy to be free of the demands of production and distribution and to be able to focus our energies on developing more books.

Reprinting South Corner served as the springboard for developing a copublishing relationship with the University of Arizona Press in 1981. We actually inaugurated Sun Tracks as a literary series copublished by the University of Arizona Press in 1982 with the publication of Mat Hekid O Ju: / When It Rains, a bilingual book of Tohono O'odham and Pima poetry edited by Ofelia Zepeda, at that time a graduate student in linguistics at the University of Arizona. As an editorial committee to guide the literary series, we drew on the group of Native American graduate students and faculty who came together at the University of Arizona in the early 1980s Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria, Jr., Leslie Silko, and Emory Sekaquaptewa. Ofelia Zepeda first became involved with Sun Tracks while she was an undergraduate student in a course on American Indian literature I taught. From her work on South Corner to the present, she has been an active member of the editorial committee.

The publishing arrangement with the press varied from book to book. We developed different arrangements for different projects. Royalties from South Corner and some other projects (notably the Words and Place video series) helped us to build a small revolving fund to support the development of Sun Tracks book projects. We used the fund to give authors a small advance or to pay modest contributor's fees, things that the University of Arizona Press was not able to do in those days. We have never had anything like an operating budget from the University of Arizona, although we have been permitted to use office space in several locations along the way. We developed or acquired the manuscripts and took them to the press for editing, design, production, and distribution. We tried to watch over the books as they proceeded through these stages and, depending on the personnel involved, sometimes were able to have considerable input.

The trajectory of our publishing relationship in the early 1990s has clearly been toward increasing assimilation of the Sun Tracks projects into the University of Arizona Press organization. Still, the independent editorial judgments that have been the hallmark of the Sun Tracks projects from the beginning have been maintained in the book series.

In any case, as a book series, Sun Tracks has continued the goals set early on by the literary magazine: to provide publishing opportunities for Native American writers, to be open to publishing the forms of writing and the languages that they choose to work in, to be alert to opportunities to publish both Native American verbal and visual artists, and to strive always for quality. Early on, when The South Corner of Time loomed large as a springboard, we tried to develop several book projects that echoed its tribal format. Spirit Mountain, a collection from the tribes along the Colorado River (Havasupai, Hualapai, and others) is an example. Like South Corner, the general editors, Leanne Hinton and Lucille Watahomigie, utilized different editors for each tribal section. Like South Corner and When It Rains, Spirit Mountain attempted to recognize and promote writing in native languages. Contacts for the various editorial teams that worked on the book were developed by Ofelia Zepeda, Lucille Watahomigie, and Leanne Hinton during their participation in the American Indian Language Development Institute, a summer institute devoted to the advancement of native literacy. Goals and projects overlapped and became interwoven in this way, but as the Sun Tracks series has progressed there has been nothing like a standard format. We have been opportunistic. Each book has had its own distinctive history. There is not space to tell all those stories here.

Sun Tracks made a transition into another phase in 1992 when Ofelia Zepeda became Series Editor. Dr. Zepeda, who holds a tenured position in the Linguistics Department at the University of Arizona, continues her longstanding involvement in the American Indian Studies Program, where Sun Tracks is now housed. That Dr. Zepeda will lead Sun Tracks into new areas of emphasis is already clear. On October 15, 1982, in the Tohono O'odham (Papago) Tribal Council Chambers in Sells, Arizona, she arranged an unusual gathering. On that Friday afternoon, many of the tribal offices closed so that workers could attend a special event. The event was certainly the first of its kind: a bilingual poetry reading in O'odham and English to celebrate the publication of Mat Hekid O Ju: / When It Rains. As writer after writer came forward to read first in O'odham and then in English, the audience, clearly somewhat wary of this thing called poetry at first, warmed the room with laughter and tears. It was clear that the vision Ofelia and a few others had of creative writing in both Native languages and English was a resounding success. That Ofelia Zepeda has a place in this vital local scene, as well as in the burgeoning national scene in Native American literature, is propitious.

Larry Evers

Click the image for a larger copy

  I. Sun Tracks: An American Indian Literary Quarterly
cover image to Volume 1 number 1 (June 1971), 20 pp.
Volume 1 number 1 (June 1971), 20 pp.

Poetry Editor: Carol Kirk; Art and Photography Editor: Orville McKinley; Short Story Editor: David Jackson; Essay Editor: Mini Kaczkurkin; Secretary: Teresa Wall; Business Manager: George White; Special Projects: Roy Armstrong and Rachel Bonney; Public Relations: Audrey Peterson, Anthony DeClay, and Lawrence Isaac.
Contributors: Atoni, Liz Sohappy, O. McKinley, Patty Leah Harjo, William A. Roecker, Grey Cohoe, Gerald Robert Vizenor, Stephan Wall, Sam Tayah, Laura Chee, Jon Colvin, Louise Brown, Robert Chee.
cover image to Volume 1, number 2 (Fall 1971), 32 pp.
Volume 1, number 2 (Fall 1971), 32 pp.

  Managing Editor: Roy Armstrong; Literary Editor: George White; Art: Orville McKinley and Mike Wise; Business Affairs: Audrey Peterson and Rachel Bonney; Staff: Faithe Seota, Teresa Wall, Thomasine Hill, Martin McGaughey, Mini Kaczkurkin, and Rosita Ruiz.
Contributors: Patricia Irving, Virgil Curtis Link, Johnny Romero, Ravensblood, Patty Leah Harjo, Gerald Vizenor, Atoni, Ruth W. Giddings, Helen Sekaquaptewa, Louise Udall, Faithe Seota, Helga Teiwes, M. Wise, O. McKinley, Trudy Griffin, Robert Chee, R. Armstrong.
cover image to Volume 1, number 3 (Winter 1971-72), 32 pp.
Volume 1, number 3 (Winter 1971-72), 32 pp.

  Managing Editor: Roy A. Armstrong; Literary Editor: George White; Assistant Editor: Faithe Seota; Art: Trudy Griffin, Thomas Yazzie, and Peter Deswood; Business: Audrey Peterson; Subscriptions: Rachel Bonney; Staff: Thomasine Hill, Geraldine Kearns, Rosita Ruiz, Orville McKinley, Teresa Wall, Larry Isaac, and Phyllis Chatham.
Contributors: Scott Momaday, M. Leon-Portilla, Alberta Nofchissey, Phil George, King Kuka, Harry Levantonio, R. J. Johnson, Rudy Bantista, Bruce Ignacio, Johnny Harvey, Patty Harjo, Shirley Woody, Sharon Burnette, Francis Brazil, Greta Sullateskee, Sherry Hampton, Ted Palmanteer, Larry Bird, Alonzo Lopez, T. Yazzi, P. Deswood, S. Peters, O. McKinley, T. Griffin, and Atoni.
cover image to Volume 1, number 4 (Spring 1972), 32 pp.
Volume 1, number 4 (Spring 1972), 32 pp.
(This number was misprinted as "volume 1, number 3")

  Managing Editor: Faithe C. Seota; Assistant Editor: Larry Curley; Art: Trudy Griffin, Orville McKinley, and Larry Isaac; Subscriptions: Rachel Bonney; Staff: Geraldine Kearns and Rosita Ruiz.
Contributors: Red Bird, Gerri Kearns, Patty Harjo, Liz Sohappy, Larry Emerson, Vance Goodiron, No-Nee, Agustin Nasewytewa, Johnny Charlie, Richard Thaylor, Donnie Yellowfly, Roger Lee, Tony Tsosie, Trudy Griffin, and Robert Bautista.
    II. Sun Tracks: An American Indian Literary Magazine

Sun Tracks cover vol. 2 No. 1, Fall 1975 	Volume 2, number 1 (Fall 1975), 25 pp.
Volume 2, number 1 (Fall 1975), 25 pp.

  Editorial Committee: Daniel Brudevold, Dr. Larry Evers, James Hepworth, Eva Kahn, Michael Ladeyo, Dolly Noche, Rosita Ruiz, and Agnes Tso.
Contributors: Agnes Tso, Simon J. Ortiz, Yilhazba, Gerri Kearns, Angelita Kisto Maldonado, Darrell Rumbley, Nia Francisco, Alicia Kavena, Michael Ladeyo, and Joyotpaul Chaudhuri.
cover image to VSun Tracks cover Vol. 2 No. 2, Spring 1976 	Volume 2, number 2 (Spring 1976), 25 pp.
Volume 2, number 2 (Spring 1976), 25 pp.

  Editorial Committee: Dan Brudevold, Eva K. Castillo, Larry Evers, James Hepworth, Marlene Hoskie, Dolly Noche, Wayne Taylor, Jr., and Agnes Tso.
Contributors: Refugio Savala, Charles R. Ballard, Paula Gunn Allen, Simon J. Ortiz, Ray Young Bear, Mini Valenzuela Kaczkurkin, Carter Revard, and N. Scott Momaday.
cover image to Volume 3, number 1 (Fall 1976), 37 pp.
Volume 3, number 1 (Fall 1976), 37 pp.

  Editorial Committee: Dan Brudevold, Lena Begay, Larry Evers, James Hepworth, Marlene Hoskie, Emma Jim, Wilhelmina Jim, Dolly Noche, Wayne Taylor, Jr., and Agnes Tso.
Contributors: A. Kelsey, N. Scott Momaday, Hiram R. Smith, Aaron Yava, William Oandasan, Gerald Hobson, Yolanda Schultz, nila northsun, Robert Conley, Roman Adrian, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Duane BigEagle.
cover image to Volume 3, number 2 (Spring 1977), 40 pp.
Volume 3, number 2 (Spring 1977), 40 pp.

  Editorial Committee: Elena Bennett, Dan Brudevold, Steve Crum, Larry Evers, Jim Hepworth, Marlene Hoskie, Emma Jim, Calvin Kelly, Alex Mendez, Dolly Noche, Myrna Pavatea, Barbara Sorrell, and Wayne Taylor.
Contributors: Norman BigEagle, Duane BigEagle, Alexander Posey, Joe Sando, George Hood, Louise Abeita, Rick Casillas, Simon J. Ortiz, Lance Henson, Nora Naranjo, Juan Reyna, Liz Cook, and Barney Bush, with a Special Section of Writing by Indian Young People.
cover image to Volume 4, Sun Tracks Four: Native American Perspectives (1978)
Volume 4, Sun Tracks Four: Native American Perspectives (1978)

  Edited by Larry Evers, Marlene Hoskie, Roberta Howard, and Victor Masayesva.
Contributors: Leslie Silko, Victor Masayesva, Luci Tapahonso, Roberta Hill, Tim Clashin, Albert Yuhmayo, Arlene McGee, Jon West, Fillman Childs Bell, Jim Sagel, Maurice Kenny, Barney Bush, and Vine Deloria, Jr.
Volume 5, Suntracks Five (1979)
Volume 5, Suntracks Five (1979)

  Edited by Larry Evers, Marie Levy, David Begay, and Kathy Gallegos.
Contributors: Emory Sekaquaptewa, Owen Seumptewa, Harold Littlebird, nila northsun, Jim Sagel, Blair Hess, Craig Volk, Michael Dorris, Jim Barnes, Cynthia Wilson, Linda Hogan, Lomawywesa (Michael Kabotie), Geri Felix, Frank Waters, and Kenji Kawano.
Contributors: A. Kelsey, N. Scott Momaday, Hiram R. Smith, Aaron Yava, William Oandasan, Gerald Hobson, Yolanda Schultz, nila northsun, Robert Conley, Roman Adrian, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Duane BigEagle.
Cover image
not available
  Volume 6, The South Corner of Time: Hopi, Navajo, Papago, and Yaqui Tribal Literature (1980), 240 pp.

Edited by Larry Evers, with Anaya Dozier, Danny Lopez, Felipe Molina, Ellavina Tsosie Perkins, Emory Sekaquaptewa, and Ofelia Zepeda.
Contributors: Albert Yava, Emory Sekaquaptewa, Owen Seumptewa, Herschel Talashoma, Edmund Nequatewa, Ekkehart Malotki, Wendy Rose, Lomawywesa, Victor Masayesva, Irene Nakai, Sandoval, Tom Ration, Kenji Kawano, Nancy Woodman, Betty John, Agnes Tso, Nia Francisco, Gary Witherspoon, Andrew Natonabah, Martha Austin, Ventura Jose, Danny Lopez, Alice Listo, Frank Lopez, Ted Rios, Kathleen Sands, Tony Celentano, Ruth Underhill, Susie Ignacio Enos, Ofelia Zepeda, Geri Felix, Anselmo Valencia, Felipe Molina, Carmen Garcia, Ruth Giddings, Paula Castillo, Mini Valenzuela Kaczkurkin, and Refugio Savala.

  III. Sun Tracks: An American Indian Literary Series

Published by Sun Tracks and the University of Arizona Press
Series Editor: Larry Evers (1981-1991)

Editorial Advisory Committee: Vine Deloria, Jr., Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Emory Sekaquaptewa, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Ofelia Zepeda.

Volume 6: Larry Evers, ed. The South Corner of Time: Hopi, Navajo, Papago, and Yaqui Tribal Literature. 1981. Reprint of Sun Tracks, volume 6.

Volume 7: Ofelia Zepeda, ed. Mat Hekid O /u: 'O'odham HaCegitodag / When It Rains: Papago and Pima Poetry. 1982.

Volume 8: Victor Masayesva, Jr.. and Erin Younger, eds. Hopi Photographers / Hopi Images. 1983.

Volume 9: Herschel Talashoma, narrator. Hopitutuwutsi: Hopi Tales. Translated by Ekkehart Malotki. 1983.

Volume l0: Leanne Hinton and Lucille J. Watahomigie, eds. Spirit Mountain: An Anthology of Yuman Story and Song. 1984.

Volume 11: Sam and Janet Bingham, eds. Between Sacred Mountains: Navajo Stories and Lessons from the Land. 1984.

Volume 12: Simon J. Ortiz. A Good Journey. 1984.

Volume 13: James McCarthy. A Papago Traveler: The Memories of James McCarthy. Edited by John G. Westover. 1985.

Volume 14: Larry Evers and Felipe S. Molina. Yaqui Deer Songs / Maso Bwikam: A Native American Poetry. 1987.

Volume 15: Joseph Bruchac. Survival This Way: Interviews with American Indian Poets. 1987.

Volume 16: N. Scott Momaday. The Names: A Memoir. 1987.

Volume 17: Joy Harjo and Stephen Strom. Secrets from the Center of the World. 1989.

Volume 18: Bernd C. Peyer, ed. The Singing Spirit: Early Short Stories by North American Indians. 1989.

Volume 19: Andrea Lerner, ed. Dancing on the Rim of the World: An Anthology of Contemporary Northwest Native American Writing. 1990.

  IV. Sun Tracks: An American Indian Literary Series

Published by the University of Arizona Press

Series Editors: Ofelia Zepeda and Larry Evers (1991-93) Editorial Advisory Committee: Vine Deloria, Jr., Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Emory Sekaquaptewa, and Leslie Marmon Silko

Volume 20: Nora Naranjo-Morse. Mud Woman: Poems from the Clay. 1992.

Volume 21: Simon J. Ortiz. Woven Stone. 1992

Volume 22: D'Arcy McNickle. The Hawk Is Hungry and Other Stories. Edited by Birgit Hans. 1992.

Volume 23: Luci Tapahonso. Sáanii Dahataait / The Women Are Singing: Poems and Stories. 1993.

Series Editor: Ofelia Zepeda (1993 to the present)
Editorial Advisory Committee: Vine Deloria, Jr., Larry Evers, Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Emory Sekaquaptewa, and Leslie Marmon Silko

Volume 24: Carter Revard. An Eagle Nation. 1993.

Volume 25: Ruth Underhill. Singing for Power: The Song Magic of the Papago Indians of Southern Arizona. 1993.

Volume 26: Greg Sarris, ed. The Sound of Rattles and Clappers: A Collection of New California Indian Painting. 1994.

Volume 27: Wendy Rose. Bone Dance: New and Selected Poems, 1965-1993. 1994.

Volume 28: Simon J. Ortiz. After and Before the Lightning. 1994

Volume 29: Joseph Bruchac, ed. Returning the Gift: Poetry and Prose from the First North American Native Writers' Festival. 1994.

Volume 30: Elizabeth Woody. Luminaries of the Humble. 1994.

Volume 31: Larry Evers and Ofelia Zepeda, eds. Home Places: Contemporary Native American Writing from Sun Tracks. 1995.

Volume 32: Ofelia Zepeda. Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert. 1995.