Scott Momaday appointed UNESCO Artist for PeaceCelebrated US author Navarre Scott Momaday, will be designated UNESCO Artist for Peace by Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura in a ceremony at Organization Headquarters on May 12 at 6.30 p.m.
Mr Momaday is to receive this distinction “for his outstanding achievements as a writer and painter, his action in support of the restoration and preservation of Native American heritage and cultural traditions and communities […] and in recognition of his dedication to UNESCO’s Programme for intercultural dialogue and for the safeguarding of indigenous cultures.”
Mr Momaday was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, in 1934. Both his parents worked as teachers on Indian reservations when Scott was growing up, and he was exposed not only to the Kiowa traditions of his father's family but to the Navajo, Apache and Pueblo Indian cultures of the Southwest. His work as novelist, scholar, painter, printmaker and poet, combines modern Anglo-American literary methods with Native American traditions of poetry and story telling. His novels, poems, plays, books of folk tales and memoirs, essays and speeches, are informed by the traditions and heritage of Native America.
He moreover founded the Buffalo Trust, a non-profit foundation, to preserve, protect and restitute Native cultural heritage, which is working with UNESCO on a project to create Community Multimedia Centres in partnership with Native American communities in the USA. The Centres will help safeguard and revitalize the intangible heritage of the American Indians, using traditional and electronic communication technologies to help the young generations access their heritage.
In a letter to Mr Momaday, the Director-General of UNESCO declared that “the safeguarding of indigenous culture has become an absolute imperative in the context of globalization, making it necessary for culture to take its place once again at the heart of development policies.”
UNESCO’s Artists for Peace, like its Goodwill Ambassadors, are international celebrities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO’s message, their ranks include Céline Dion, Sumi Jo, and Amine Kouider.
Mr Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1969 for his first novel, House Made of Dawn. Other notable works published by the author include, The Way to Rainy Mountain, The Names, The Ancient Child, and The Man Made of Words. His books have been translated into French, Japanese, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. Educated at the universities of New Mexico and Stanford, Mr Momaday is Regent’s Professor of Humanities at the University of Arizona and Trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, which will open in Washington later this year.
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