Gordon Henry was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1955. An Anishinabe poet and novelist, Gordon Henry, Jr. is an enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota. His father served in the United States Navy, and Henry grew up travelling and living on military bases. He studied at the Michigan State University and earned his Ph.D. in Literature at the University of North Dakota. He has taught at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, and at Michigan State University.
His poetry has been published in anthologies such as Songs From This Earth On Turtle’s Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry (1983) and Returning the Gift: Poetry and Prose from the First Native American Writers (1994). His novel, The Light People (1994), was awarded The American Book Award in 1995. He has also co-authored the textbook, The Ojibway (2004), to which he contributed a number of essays on Native American culture. In 1995 he received an American Book Award for his novel the Light People and his poetry, fiction and essays have been published extensively, in the U.S. and Europe. In 2004, he co-published an educational reader on Ojibwe people with George Cornell. In 2007, Henry published a mixed-genre collection, titled The Failure of Certain Charms, with Salt Publishing, out of the U.K. He also co-edited a collection of essays on American Indian Literature, titled Stories through Theory <->Theory through Stories in 2009. In 2018 he published a co-edited volume of graphic literature, titled Not (Just) (An)other. Also, in 2018, his collection The Failure of Charms was translated into Catalan, as El Fracas de Certs Encanteris, for Balandra Ediciones, in Valencia, Spain. This past fall (2019) the University of New England Press released Afterlives of Indigenous Archives, co-edited by Gordon and Dartmouth Professor Ivy Schweitzer. Gordon’s poetry, fiction and critical writing has been published extensively internationally. His writing has appeared in journals and anthologies, in translation, in Spain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the U.K. and Germany.
Dr. Henry is also a Professor in the English Department at Michigan State University, where he teaches American Indian Literature, Creative Writing and the Creative Process, in Integrative Arts and Humanities. He serves as Senior Editor of the American Indian Studies Series (and the series sub-imprint Mukwa Enewed) at Michigan State University Press. Under his editorship the AISS has published research and creative work by an array of scholars, working in a variety of disciplines, related to the larger field of American Indian Studies.
Seven years ago, while serving as Director of the Native American Institute at Michigan State, he founded, along with Ellen Cushman, the Native American Youth Film Institute. As an offshoot of that project Professor Henry is working with the NAI and the Michigan Inter-Tribal Council, on Indigistory, a community based digital storytelling project.
Professor Henry was appointed Gordon Russell, Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College in each of the past two years. While there he taught courses in Re-mapping Tribal Narratives, the American Indian Novel, Indian Country Today and Digital Storytelling.
Professor Henry is also co-Pi on a strategic planning grant dedicated to a Center for Anishinaabe Languages, Literature and Storytelling. He is also serving as Community Coordinator on an MSU Mellon grant geared to producing, language programs, activities and curriculum in Anishinaabe communities.