Momaday's broad perspective of thirty years of creative life lends him a vision of history that is unique: through the arts he sees his people before Columbus, the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the last Kiowa Sun Dance in 1887, the assassination of Kennedy, the march of AIDS and environmental damage across the face of the land. Momaday's poetry reflects the sweep of his life: from his impressive childhood among various Indian traditions to his inspiring adult travels in Europe. These diverse interests are reflected in his poetry. As Momaday comments, "if you look closely into these pages, it is possible to catch a glimpse of me in my original being."
This power to see the sweep of history, one's own time, and one's own "original being" comes through the imagination combined with words. Momaday originated the phrase "the man made of words." He reminds us that we are all made of words: not only reading and writing, but also conversations, stories, songs, rituals, memory and thought. All these constitute our lives. Momaday also delights in the sound and the sense of words. His poetry forces the boundaries in the meanings of words and challenges our expectations about nature, Native American culture and the genre of poetry.