Close up of Nevada Writers Hall of Fame medal

Adrian Louis

1999 Nevada Writers Hall of Fame Inductee


Adrian Louis was born in Lovelock, Nevada, and is an enrolled member of the Lovelock Paiute Indian Tribe. His first poem was published in 1963, when he was a junior in high school. He obtained a B.A. in American Literature from Brown University, where he also earned an M.A. in its Creative Writing Program. He later did post-graduate work at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 1982, he became editor of Talking Leaf, The Los Angeles Indian Newspaper, until joining the faculty at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota from 1984-1997. In the mid-1980s, he was also publisher and managing editor of the Lakota Times, the largest American Indian newspaper. A co-founder of the Native American Press Association, he was elected its first President in 1984. He also served as editor of Indian Country Today. The National Indian Media Consortium nominated him twice for Print Journalist of the Year. He was a Professor of English at Minnesota State University in Marshall from 1999-2014. His first novel, Skins, was recognized as "the first major novel of reservation life to be written from inside the reservation." The film adaptation of Skins received the Best Actor Award for Graham Greene at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2002. His 2006 collection of poems, Logorrhea, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Three of his poems were included in the bilingual Contemporary American Poetry (2009), a collaboration between the Pakistan Academy of Letters and the National Endowment for the Arts, marking the first literary exchange between the two countries at the government level.

The recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, he has been awarded fellowships from the South Dakota, the Bush Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His 1989 book Fire Water World won the San Francisco State University Poetry Center Book Award. He also won the Lila Wallace–Reader's Digest Writer's Award. In 1993, he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. In 2001, he won the Writer of the Year [poetry] award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers in 2001 for Ancient Acid Flashes Back. Recent poems have been included in chapbook anthologies published by Bunchgrass Press in Columbia Basin, Washington. He has identified personal survival as the overall theme of his work.