University of New Mexico's Nick Estes, an assistant professor in the American Studies Department, was recently awarded a Lannan Literary Award Fellowship for nonfiction. The Lannan Literary Awards and Fellowships were established in 1989 to honor both established and emerging writers whose work is of exceptional quality.

The awards recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English-language literature. The fellowships recognize writers of distinctive literary merit who demonstrate potential for continued outstanding work.

“The fellowship is more than recognizing my individual achievements as a scholar and writer. It is a collective win for Indigenous writers and, more specifically, for the Lakota and Dakota intellectual tradition, to which I belong,” Estes said.

The fellowship will allow him to work on another book.

“My goal is to take the time away from teaching and university work to focus on my next book project, which examines global Indigenous movements for land defense in an era of climate change,” he noted.

Estes published two books in 2019: 

  • Our History is the Future: Standing Rock versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance, which examines how Indigenous resistance created the “Water is life” movement against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, and puts the fight into historical context, and
  • #NoDAPL and Mni Wiconi: Reflections on Standing Rock, co-edited with Jaskiran Dhillon, which draws together more than thirty contributors, including leaders, scholars, and activists of the Standing Rock movement.

Estes is a member of Kul Wicasa, a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, and was born and raised in South Dakota. His nation is the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (the Great Sioux Nation or the Nation of the Seven Council Fires).

He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies Department from UNM, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from the University of South Dakota. He is a member of the Oak Lake Writers Society, a group of Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota writers, and co-founded The Red Nation in Albuquerque, an organization dedicated to the liberation of Native people from capitalism and colonialism. He serves as an editor and writes the bi-weekly newsletter.

His writing has also been featured in The NationHigh Country NewsIndian Country TodayThe Funambulist, and The Intercept. He hosts The Red Nation Podcast, a show about contemporary Indigenous politics.