American Literature Wendy Rose (Miwok/Hopi)
Elizabeth Archuleta
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 September 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199827251-0223


Wendy Rose, born Bronwen Elizabeth Edwards (b. 1948) in Oakland, California, is the author of several books of poetry and essays. Rose’s early poetry expresses the pain and trauma of her childhood, the loneliness and alienation she felt as a child, her lived experience as an urban, mixed-race Indian, and the disconnect she felt between being a social anthropologist and a poet. She lived in a predominantly white neighborhood near San Francisco with peers who teased her about her Native American background. She was also estranged from her Native heritage by a mixed-race mother, Betty Edwards, who refused to acknowledge her own Miwok background. Moreover, in spite of her father’s being full-blooded Hopi, tribal enrollment follows the mother’s bloodline, so she was unable to enroll. Her stepfather, Dick Edwards, was abusive, which added to her disaffection. Her poems express the rejection she felt from one side of her family and the separation that kept her from being fully embraced by the other half. Her search for identity and acceptance are themes in much of her early poetry. She eventually dropped out of high school and began to write, draw, and sing. She joined the American Indian Movement (AIM) and participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology (1976) and a master’s degree (1978) from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught Native American and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley; California State University, Fresno; and Fresno City College, where she retired due to health issues. She edited the American Indian Quarterly for one year. Rose belongs to the first generation of contemporary Native American writers who emerged during the 1970s. While in college, she published her first poetry collection, Hopi Roadrunner Dancing (Rose 1973 [cited under Poetry]), written under the name Chiron Khanshendel. She followed this up with several more publications in the decades that followed, along with the anthropological study, Aboriginal Tattooing in California (Rose 1979b [cited under Research]). As an anthropologist and poet, she spoke out against what she called white shamanism as well as stereotypes and the appropriation and exploitation of American Indian cultures for consumer and tourist profit. Rose’s poetry appears in over sixty contemporary literature collections and has been translated into French, German, and Danish.


Rose’s works include her more popular publications, beginning with her Poetry collections and ending with her latest publication. Her poetry is influenced by her role as an anthropologist, her childhood, and an adulthood spent making peace with her mixed-race identity and sense of alienation from society and politics. Also featured is an autobiographical essay that will help students place her writing in context with her lived experiences as poet, activist, academic, and artist; critiques of American Indian cultural appropriation, a subject that also appears in some of her poems; and anthropological research that explores tattooing in California Indian communities.

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