Joseph Bruchac lives in the Adirondack mountain foothills town of Greenfield Center, New York, in the same house where his maternal grandparents raised him. Much of his writing draws on that land and his Abenaki ancestry. Although his American Indian heritage is only one part of an ethnic background that includes Slovak and English blood, those Native roots are the ones by which he has been most nourished. He, his younger sister Margaret, and his two grown sons, James and Jesse, continue to work extensively in projects involving the preservation of Abenaki culture, language, and traditional Native skills, including performing traditional and contemporary Abenaki music with the Dawnland Singers.
Bruchac holds a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. in Literature and Creative Writing from Syracuse, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the Union Institute of Ohio. His work as an educator includes eight years of directing a program for Skidmore College inside a maximum security prison.
With his late wife, Carol, he founded the Greenfield Review Literary Center and The Greenfield Review Press. He has edited a number of highly praised anthologies of contemporary poetry and fiction. His honors include a Rockefeller Humanities fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship for Poetry, the Cherokee Nation Prose Award, the Knickerbocker Award, the Hope S. Dean Award for Notable Achievement in Children's Literature, and both the 1998 Writer of the Year Award and the 1998 Storyteller of the Year Award from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. In 1999, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas.
As a professional teller of the traditional tales of the Adirondacks and the Native peoples of the Northeastern Woodlands, Bruchac has performed widely in Europe and throughout the United States and has been featured at such events as the British Storytelling Festival and the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee. He has been a storyteller-in-residence for Native American organizations and schools throughout the continent, including the Institute of Alaska Native Arts and the Onondaga Nation School. As a visiting author, he discusses Native culture and his books and does storytelling programs at dozens of elementary and secondary schools each year.
- Native stories put into conversation with the contemporary situation
- Important conclusions drawn from traditional stories about nature and society
- Children's stories that instill a sense of spirituality and respect for the world