“Dreamy and lyrical, frequently achieving a shimmering beauty.”-  The Oregonian

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.

Debra's Featured Titles

The Lost Journals Of Sacajewea

Milkweed Editions |

From the award-winning author of Perma Red comes a devastatingly beautiful novel that challenges prevailing historical narratives of Sacajewea.

Raised among her people, the Lemhi Shoshone, the young Sacajewea is fierce and bold, growing strong from her relationships to the nonhuman world and from the hard work of “learning all ways to survive” gathering berries, water, roots, and wood; preparing buffalo, antelope, deer, and fish; snaring rabbits, weaving carry baskets, and listening to the stories of her elders. Her universe, however, is on the brink of upheaval. When her village is marauded by enemy raiders, and her Appe and Bia are killed, Sacajewea is stolen and then gambled away to Charbonneau, a French Canadian trapper and trader.

Heavy with grief, Sacajewea learns how to survive at the edge of a strange new world teeming with Native and non-Native fur trappers and traders. When Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery arrives, Sacajewea knows she must cross a vast and brutal terrain with her newborn son, the white man who owns her, and a company of men who wish to conquer the world she loves. Her story is a gift of triumph, perseverance, and resistance–the Native woman’s story that hasn’t been told.

With lyrical, dreamlike prose that collapses space and time, The Lost Journals of Sacajewea is an immersive, astonishing work of art and a powerful reclamation, recentering Sacajewea as the arbiter of her own history.

Perma Red

Milkweed Editions |

Bold, passionate, and more urgent than ever, Debra Magpie Earling’s powerful classic novel is reborn in this new edition. On the Flathead Indian Reservation, summer is ending, and Louise White Elk is determined to forge her own path. Raised by her Grandmother Magpie after the death of her mother, Louise and her younger sister have grown up into the harsh social and physical landscape of western Montana in the 1940s, where Native people endure boarding schools and life far from home. As she approaches adulthood, Louise hopes to create an independent life for herself and an improved future for her family–but three persistent men have other plans. Since childhood, Louise has been pursued by Baptiste Yellow Knife, feared not only for his rough-and-tumble ways, but also for the preternatural gifts of his bloodline. Baptiste’s rival is his cousin, Charlie Kicking Woman: a man caught between worlds, torn between his duty as a tribal officer and his fascination with Louise. And then there is Harvey Stoner. The white real estate mogul can offer Louise her wildest dreams of freedom, but at what cost? As tensions mount, Louise finds herself trying to outrun the bitter clutches of winter and the will of powerful men, facing choices that will alter her life–and end another’s–forever.


Coming Soon!

Debra Magpie Earling: “The Lost Journals of Sacagawea”

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Recipient, National Endowment for the Arts Grant
Guggenheim Fellow
Western Writers Association Spur Award for Best Novel of the West
Mountain and Plains Bookseller Association Award
WWA’s Medicine Pipe Bearer Award for Best First Novel
WILLA Literary Award
American Book Award

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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