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Joseph Bruchac
Born October 16, 1942 (1942-10-16) (age 80)
Occupation Writer, educator, storyteller
Education B.A., Cornell University; M.A., Syracuse U.; Ph.D., Comparative Literature, Union Institute
Period 1971–present
Genre Fiction, music, poetry
Notable awards spur award
Spouse Carol Bruchac (deceased)
Children Jim Bruchac, Jesse Bruchac

Joseph Bruchac (born October 16, 1942) is a writer and storyteller. He is best known for his work regarding the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a particular focus on northeastern Native American and Anglo-American lives and folklore. He has published poetry, novels, and short stories. Some of his notable works include the novel Dawn Land (1993) and its sequel, Long River (1995), both of which feature a young Abenaki man before European contact.

Early life

Bruchac was raised in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is of Abenaki, English, and Slovak ethnicity. His grandfather, Jesse Bowman, was of Abenaki heritage.


He holds a Bachelor's degree in English literature from Cornell University, a Master's degree in literature and creative writing from Syracuse, and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the Union Institute of Ohio.

Native writer

Bruchac is best known for his work as a Native writer and storyteller, having published more than 120 books. Much of his work explores his Abenaki identity, and Native storytelling tradition. He began publishing in 1971 and has collaborated on eight books with his son Jim. In 1999, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.

In 2019, his book Squanto's Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving published in 2000 by Harcourt Brace was not recommended by American Indians in Children's Literature.

Coauthor with Michael J. Caduto of the Keepers of the Earth series, Bruchac's poems, articles and stories have appeared in over 500 publications, from Akwesasne Notes and The American Poetry Review to National Geographic Magazine and Parabola. He has edited a number of anthologies of contemporary poetry and fiction, including Songs from this Earth on Turtle's Back, Breaking Silence (winner of an American Book Award) and Returning the Gift.

As one of the founders of the Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, he has helped numerous Native authors get their work published.

Personal life

Bruchac lives in Porter Corners, a hamlet in the town of Greenfield, New York. Mr. Bruchac is also a performing storyteller and musician. He plays several Native instruments, including the hand drum, wooden flute, and the double wooden flute, which produces two notes at the same time. He performs with his sister, Marge Bruchac, and his sons, Jim and Jesse, as part of The Dawnland Singers.

Bruchac spent four years volunteering as a teacher in Ghana. His work as an educator includes eight years of directing a college program for Skidmore College inside a maximum security prison. With his late wife, Carol, he founded the Greenfield Review Literary Center and The Greenfield Review Press.

Bruchac was a varsity heavyweight wrestler at Cornell University. For more than three decades, he has also been a devoted student of the martial arts. He has studied various forms of T'ai chi, capoeira, kung fu wushu, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with numerous teachers.

His novel March Toward the Thunder features Native men who enlisted in the American Civil War; it is based on the experiences of his great-grandfather, Louis Bowman. Joseph Bruchac has also written Code talker: A Book About the Navajo Marines.

Awards and honors

In 1996, Bruchac was awarded the Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature by the New York Library Association. This recognizes "a New York State author who has demonstrated, through a body of work, a consistently superior quality which supports the curriculum and the educational goals of New York State School".

Bruchac's 2004 work, Jim Thorpe's Bright Path, won the Carter G. Woodson Book Award in 2005.

Other honors include a Rockefeller Humanities fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship for Poetry, the Cherokee Nation Prose Award, the Hope S. Dean Award for Notable Achievement in Children's Literature and both the 1998 Writer of the Year Award and the 1998 Storyteller of the Year Award from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. He received the annual NWCA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

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