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NAME: Eric Gansworth  
NATION: Onondaga  
WEBSITE: see link below  


Eric Gansworth, an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, was born and raised at the Tuscarora Indian Nation in Western New York. He is a Professor of English and Lowery Writer in Residence at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

His first novel, Indian Summers (1998), a collection of poetry and paintings, titled Nickel Eclipse: Iroquois Moon, (2000) and his second novel, Smoke Dancing (2004) feature paintings as integral parts of their narratives, and have all been published by Michigan State University Press. Another novel, Mending Skins, was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2005. Short fiction of his has appeared in the anthologies, Growing Up Native American (Morrow), Blue Dawn, Red Earth (Doubleday) and Iroquois Voices, Iroquois Visions (Bright Hill), The Second Word Thursdays Anthology (Bright Hill), Stories for Winter Nights (White Pine), Fishing for Chickens (Persea), and Nothing but the Truth: An Anthology of Native American Literature (Prentice Hall), and in Quartet, a just buffalo literary center, inc. chapbook. Poetry has been included on Roadkillbasa, a performance audio tape; and in the journals, Blueline, Shenandoah, The Cream City Review, Slipstream, phati'tude, and UCLA's American Indian Culture and Research Journal and in the anthology, Children of the Dragonfly (University of Arizona Press). His first piece of Creative Non-Fiction appears in the anthology Genocide of the Mind, (The Nation Books). He is a member of the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers & Storytellers, the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, is listed in the Directory of American Poets & Fiction Writers and in 1999, received a Writer in Residency award from just buffalo literary center, inc.

Gansworth began his creative work as a visual artist, and eventually expanded to narrative as a way of furthering the storytelling he had developed visually. His first solo exhibit, titled "Nickel Eclipse: Iroquois Moon,"opened in 1999 at the Olean Public Library and an expanded show opened at the Castellani Museum in 2000. His work has been in shows across New York State, including "Revisiting Turtle Island,"at the Niagara Arts and Culture Center, "Native Vision: Art through Haudenosaunee Eyes,"at the Fanette-Goldman Gallery, "Art Creations from Tuscarora," at Neto Hatinakwe Ohnkwehowe, the "Keepers of the Western Door" Exhibit, co-sponsored by CEPA Gallery and the World University Games, and in a follow-up exhibit "In the Shadow of the Eagle," at the Castellani Museum. He participated in the "Teaching Metaphors" exhibit at the Niagara County Community College. His work was also included in "Sharing the Visions," at Hartwick College in Oneonta. One of his paintings was the cover of Sherman Alexie's book First Indian on the Moon. Others have been included in the history text As Long as the Grass Shall Grow and Rivers Flow (Harcourt Brace) the Iroquois Voices, Iroquois Visions anthology (Bright Hill), and the journal, The Cream City Review. Presently, he serves on the Board of Directors of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center. He has also served terms on panels for the Arts Council of Buffalo and Erie County and the New York State Council on the Arts Literature Panel, and on the Artists Advisory Committee for the New York Foundation for the Arts. He was also an artist in the Herd About Buffalo Project.

Gansworth's work is a commentary on the oral tradition existing within Haudenosaunee culture and its fluid nature. He uses iconography recognizable in the context of the mythic Haudenosaunee world, yet alters it to reflect issues relevant to a more contemporary Haudenosaunee existence, as well.


State University College at Buffalo
Master of Arts: English (Literature), 1990. G.P.A. 4.0
State University College at Buffalo
Bachelor of Arts: English (Literature), 1989. G.P.A. 3.4
Niagara County Community College
Associate of Applied Science: Electroencephalography, 1986 G.P.A. 3.0
Master's Thesis
The Virus in the Works of William S. Burroughs
Explored the idea in Burroughs' works that language is a virus, and the impact of this idea on text and structure.


Eric was a visiting writer-in-residence at the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities in October 2004. He was invited to write the entry for American Indian Literature in New York State, in The Encyclopedia of New York State. He received a writer-in-residency award from the just buffalo literary center in 1999. His novel, Indian Summers, chosen for the Readers and Writers on the Air program on North Country Public Radio, October 1999 and was selected for the College Libraries' America Reads 2000 project.

The following is an excerpt from:

Identification Pleas

By Eric Gansworth © 2002

So, it's the summer of 2002, late spring, actually, May, in the town of Del Rio, Texas, perhaps one of the last places on earth I thought I would be engaged in identity crisis. For the sake of accuracy, though, the crisis occurs externally, not internally, but truly, I should have been more careful. I am here with a friend, Donnie, who has a piece of land in this small border town. He is showing me around the state to facilitate some research. He asks me if I want to cross the border into Acuña, as it is right there. Though the temperature is over a hundred degrees, we walk across the bridge above the Rio Grandé, into Mexico. On the exact border, large metal pegs mar the full surface of the pavement, gleam in the heat, announce the change of country in full-size versions of that dotted line you see on maps.

Here, trucks pull up, from the United States' end of the bridge, and stop, right on the dotted line. Other trucks meet them on the Mexican side. The drivers descend from their cabs and carry large boxes from the cargo areas of the U.S. trucks to those of the Mexican trucks. The border guards sit disinterested, watch this transaction under the bright sun, so I take a cue from them, that this activity is nothing worth noting, and move on.

Acuña's commercial districts evidently consist almost exclusively of three things: souvenir shops, severely economical dentists, and pharmacies, where the picture windows are full of containers housing large quantities of discount prescription drugs, in the same manner candy is displayed in the windows of Chocolateers. Cipro is, by far, the most popular drug. It is mere months after the anthrax scare of 2001, and the national obsession with this antibiotic, as the cure-all for its fears of biological terrorism, has not yet waned. Donnie has obtained prescription drugs here before as, for most, a prescription is not needed at these places, and a man standing in one of the shop doors invites me to buy a prescription, which I can then take into the building to make my purchase. Donnie explains this is for controlled-substance prescriptions, which the border guards would need to see with official documentation. The man shows me his prescription pad. Reproduced with the permission of the author.