Erdrich grew up in North Dakota, where her parents taught at a school run by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Erdrich attended Dartmouth College, part of the first class of women admitted to the college; her freshman year also coincided with the establishment of the Native-American studies department.
In his class, Erdrich began the exploration of her own ancestry that would eventually inspire her poems, short stories and novels.
Intent on balancing her academic training with a broad range of practical knowledge, Erdrich told Miriam Berkley in an interview with “I ended up taking some really crazy jobs, and I’m glad I did.
is a professor of English at William Rainey Harper College. Her prior publications include book chapters on postmodern American literature and composition, as well as reference essays on various figures in twentieth–century American literature.
“ offers a rare and thoughtful view inside the motivations of Native America’s most accomplished writer.Written during Erdrich’s pregnancy, the volume also includes poems that focus on motherhood and children.The highly-praised poem “Hydra,” written while Erdrich was pregnant, evokes her unborn child and a mythical serpent figure, while its speaker compares herself to the Biblical mothers Eve and Mary.Many critics claim Erdrich has remained true to her Native ancestors’ mythic and artistic visions while writing fiction that candidly explores the cultural issues facing modern-day Native Americans and mixed heritage Americans.An essayist for observed that “Erdrich’s accomplishment is that she is weaving a body of work that goes beyond portraying contemporary Native American life as descendants of a politically dominated people to explore the great universal questions—questions of identity, pattern versus randomness, and the meaning of life itself.” In addition to her numerous award-winning novels and short story collections, Erdrich has published three critically acclaimed collections of poetry, (2003).Exploring the ways in which Erdrich moves effortlessly from trickster humor to searing pathos and from the personal to the political, Kurup takes up the complex issues of cultural identity, assimilation, and community in Erdrich's writing.Kurup shows that Erdrich offers readers poignant and complex portraits of Native American lives in vibrant, three-dimensional, and poetic prose while simultaneously bearing witness to the abiding strength and grace of the Ojibwe people and their presence and participation in the history of the United States. in English from Kent State University, where her research interests focused on postmodern American literature and theory and multicultural women's literature.After receiving her master’s degree, Erdrich returned to Dartmouth as a writer-in-residence.Dorris—with whom she had remained in touch—attended a reading of Erdrich’s poetry there and was impressed.As the daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother and a German-American father, Erdrich explores Native-American themes in her works, with major characters representing both sides of her heritage.In an award-winning series of related novels and short stories, Erdrich has visited and re-visited the North Dakota lands where her ancestors met and mingled, representing Chippewa experience in the Anglo-American literary tradition.