Debra Magpie Earling was born in Spokane, Washington. She received her BA from the University of Washington in Seattle and her MA and MFA in Fiction from Cornell University. From 1991 to 1998, Earling held positions in both Native American Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Montana in Missoula. Currently, she is an associate professor in the English Department there and teaches Fiction and Native American Studies.
Earling’s work has appeared in Ploughshares, Northeast Indian Quarterly, and many anthologies including Song of the Turtle (Old World/Ballantine); Contemporary Short Stories Celebrating Women; Circle of Women (Red River Books); Talking Leaves: An Anthology of Contemporary Native American Short Stories (Delta).
Perma Red (Blue Hen Books 2002) was her first novel. It received the Western Writers Association Spur Award for Best Novel of the West in 2003, the Mountain and Plains Bookseller Association Award, WWA’s Medicine Pipe Bearer Award for Best First Novel, a WILLA Literary Award, and the American Book Award. It is a Montana Book Award Honor Book and was chosen by Barnes & Noble as part of its Discover Great New Writers series.
Her latest novel (May 2023), The Lost Journals of Sacajewea is a devastatingly beautiful novel that challenges prevailing historical narratives of Sacajewea.