Linda (Henderson) Hogan was born on July 16, 1947, in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Charles and Cleona (Bower) Henderson. Her mother was a white woman from Nebraska, but Hogan identified more strongly with her Chickasaw father and his family, who lived in rural south-central Oklahoma. She and her parents frequently visited Oklahoma; in one interview, the poet stated that Oklahoma felt like home to her, a place where she was loved, “cared for, wanted.” She was nevertheless a solitary child, choosing to spend much of her time alone outdoors.
Hogan’s grandfather was a bronco rider, and her grandmother, descended from a nineteenth century head of the Chickasaw nation, was what Hogan calls “a caretaker of the people.” During the 1930’s, her grandparents lost their allotment land, which they had farmed, to foreclosure. To support themselves, her grandfather worked as a janitor for a church, and her grandmother sold eggs in town. This family experience helped Hogan to understand how American society blames victims for their own poverty and hunger, a common topic in her work. From her grandparents, Hogan also learned that there was an alternative to her working-class city lifestyle: She learned, she has said, “better ways to love, to take care of life,” to appreciate the beauty of nature as well as how to survive poverty and hardship.
During Hogan’s childhood, little value was placed on formal education, because her American Indian family had different values from those of the dominant white society. Although she did not read much as a child, she grew up in a strong oral tradition, encouraged by her father, her uncle, and her grandmother, all of whom were storytellers. As Hogan said in one interview, “I wasn’t interested in literature, but I did...
(The entire section is 731 words.)