Alaska Writer Laureate Ernestine Hayes belongs to the Kaagwaantaan clan of the Tlingit nation. Her first book, Blonde Indian, an Alaska Native Memoir, received an American Book Award and an Honoring Alaska Indigenous Literature (HAIL) Award. It was also a Native America Calling Book of the Month and finalist for the Kiriyama Prize and PEN Nonfiction Award, and was the inaugural selection for Alaska Reads. Her works have appeared in Studies in American Indian Literature, Yellow Medicine Review, Cambridge History of Western American Literature, and other forums. Her poem “The Spoken Forest” is installed at Totem Bight State Park, and her comments on Indigenous identity are installed in the Alaska State Museum. Her latest book, The Tao of Raven, weaves narratives and reflection in the context of Raven and the Box of Daylight.
At the age of 50, Hayes enrolled at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) to complete an education that had ended when she dropped out in tenth grade. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literary Arts and is now Associate Professor at UAS. Known as an advocate for social justice, Hayes shares her story to encourage and inspire people on their paths.