Marilou Awiakta was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee in 1936. Awiakta graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tennessee with degrees in French and English. Awiakta was a civilian liaison officer and translator for the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1967. Throughout her distinguished career she has blended her Cherokee/Appalachian heritage with the experience of growing up in the "atomic frontier" of Oak Ridge. She has been published in many anthologies such as A Gathering Spirit, A Southern Appalachian Reader and Alice Walker's In Search of Our Mothers Gardens. The poet and author was the winner of the Distinguished Tennessee Writers Award in 1989, and also has written for Ms, The Greenfield Review, Women of Power, and Southern Exposure, which commissioned her essay on the 1984 reunion of the Eastern and Western Councils of the Cherokee. She has worked for many years in the Arts-In-Schools program in Memphis, Tennessee, and has also formed poetry workshops in the Women's Prison there. She was co-founder of the Far Away Cherokee Association, which is now the Native American Intertribal Association. She now lives in Memphis with her husband, Paul Thompson, and their three children.
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