N. Scott Mo­ma­day,

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words -

over­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of bear to Na­tive cul­ture and to cul­tures ev­ery­where. Pasa: Last year, you brought sev­eral Siberian in­dige­nous writ­ers to Santa Fe. How did that come about? Mo­ma­day: I have a foun­da­tion which is called the Buf­falo Trust. Its main con­cern is to work with in­dige­nous peo­ples around the world and help them pre­serve their way of life. I was a teacher in Moscow back in the 1970s, and I so en­joyed that ex­pe­ri­ence. Through that, I got very in­ter­ested in the in­dige­nous peo­ple of Siberia and Rus­sia. I went there and worked with in­dige­nous tribes in Western Siberia. I met some of their writ­ers. When the del­e­ga­tion from Siberia came, I in­vited them. We had a won­der­ful meet­ing here. I went back and vis­ited them there. That’s hap­pened about four or five times. Last year they came and vis­ited IAIA, where I was teach­ing a course at the time. When I first en­coun­tered them, they were writ­ing un­der­ground pieces, not pub­lished very eas­ily. Now they have de­vel­oped a real lit­er­a­ture which is well pub­lished. Re­cently, there has been an anthology of Siberian writ­ing pub­lished here in the states. That seems to be grow­ing to my ap­proval and ex­cite­ment. Pasa: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Mo­ma­day: I wanted to be a writer very early. My mother was al­ways telling me sto­ries and read­ing things to me. I de­vel­oped a real in­ter­est in lit­er­a­ture when I was fairly young. I started to think of my­self as a writer even be­fore I was en­ti­tled to do that. When I got to col­lege, I started to en­ter writ­ing com­pe­ti­tions. I pub­lished my first poem just af­ter grad­u­at­ing from UNM. I thought, I’m a pro­fes­sional writer. I kept up af­ter all th­ese years and I have be­come a writer, lo and be­hold. Pasa: You are also a pain­ter and have in­cluded il­lus­tra­tions in your books. How did that come about? Mo­ma­day: I was in Rus­sia for the first time in 1974. It was very much be­hind the Iron Cur­tain at the time and a fas­ci­nat­ing place to be for an Amer­i­can. Some­thing about the ex­pe­ri­ence caused me to start mak­ing sketches and draw­ing and so on. I was about 40 years old when I re­ally be­came a graphic artist. It also a lot had to do with the fact that I watched my fa­ther paint when I was grow­ing up. I was al­ways around that ac­tiv­ity, though I didn’t take part in it my­self. I feel by os­mo­sis I learned a great deal from him. He liked to in­vite other artists to come and paint with him. Those oc­ca­sions turned out to be great fun. From a dis­tance, I par­tic­i­pated in that. I think even­tu­ally that came to the sur­face in my cre­ativ­ity.

Mo­ma­day il­lus­tra­tion from In the Bear’s House

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