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Cibola County Beacon
January 25, 2005

Laguna family wins dual awards

LAGUNA - Acclaimed Native American photographer and author Lee Marmon and his daughter, author Leslie Marmon Silko, will both be honored at an awards ceremony in Denver this spring.

The duo are set to receive simultaneous literary awards from the Mountains and Plains Booksellers' Association (MPBA).

The joint recognition ceremony is tentatively set for Friday, April 1, at the Denver Marriott Hotel.

"This is truly an honor," Marmon, 79, said from his home in Laguna Pueblo. "It's a profound privilege for our family, for the Laguna people, and for the entire Native American community for Leslie and me to be jointly recognized this way. I have tremendous respect for the Mountains and Plains Booksellers' Association. After 55 years as a professional photographer, this will be a singularly proud and memorable moment for me, both as an artist and as a father."

Marmon's acclaimed 2003 book, "The Pueblo Imagination," was voted best art book of the year in the MPBA's 2005 Regional Book Awards Contest. It also took a first place award from Independent Publisher Online in 2004.

The 159-page book features a collection of his best-known tribal photographs and landscape images, dating back to 1949. Collectively, they chronicle the last generation of the Laguna and Acoma tribes to live by their traditional ways and values. The images are lovingly interwoven with native poetry and prose by Leslie Marmon Silko, poet Joy Harjo and poet Simon Ortiz, all of whom co-authored the book with Marmon.

The MPBA will honor Silko with its Spirit of the West Literary Achievement Award. This award is a lifetime achievement award, designed to recognize the collective body of poetry and literature she has produced over her career. Silko is the author of "Ceremony" (1988), "Storyteller" (1989), "Almanac of the Dead" (1992), "Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit" (1997) and "Gardens in the Dunes" (1999). She grew up in Laguna and currently resides in Tucson, Arizona.

Previous winners of the MPBA's Regional Book Award include New York Times Bestselling author William Least Heat Moon ("Blue Highways"), Stephen Ambrose, Debra Magpie Earling ("Perma Red"), Judy Blunt ("Breaking Clean") and Win Blevins ("Stone Song").

Previous winners of the MPBA's Spirit of the West Award include Tony Hillerman ("Skeleton Man"), N. Scott Momaday ("House Made of Dawn") and Sandra Cisneros ("The House on Mango Street" and "Caramelo").

Lee Marmon was born on the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico in 1925, and has lived there for most of his life. He bought his first camera at the age of 25, and made an early practice of shooting portrait images of the aging senior members of his Laguna tribe and neighboring tribes. His collection of thousands of black and white images have since become a national historical and cultural treasure, as they comprise a rare visual chronicle of the last generation of Native Americans to live by their traditional ways and values.

His best known photograph, "White Man's Moccasins," (1954) has been reproduced and published worldwide.

From the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Mr. Marmon lived and worked in California, where he served as official photographer for the Bob Hope Desert Classic. His images have appeared in various national publications, including The New York Times and Time Magazine. In 1992, he won an award for contributing to the Peabody Award-winning PBS-TV documentary, "Surviving Chicago."

At the age of 79, Marmon is still working as a professional photographer. At his studio in Laguna, he personally develops and signs black-and-white enlargement prints from their original negatives for the pleasure of historians, art collectors and western culture devotees worldwide.

A gallery of Marmon's best-known images and full biography can be found at his website:

By Marian Hamilton

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