Author Profile

Kent Nerburn

Kent Nerburn

Kent Nerburn has been called "One of America's living spiritual teachers" by the prestigious Spirituality and Practice web magazine, and has been praised by Harper Collins publishers as "one of the few American writers who can respectfully bridge the gap between Native and non-Native cultures."

Nerburn is the highly acclaimed author and editor of fourteen books on spiritual values and Native American themes. He received his B.A. in American Studies summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in Religion/Theology and Art with distinction from Graduate Theological Union in conjunction with the University of California at Berkeley.  

Among his published works are the trilogy of spiritual essays, Simple Truths (182,000 sold), Small Graces, and The Hidden Beauty of Everyday Life (recently re-issued as Ordinary Sacred); Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace; A Haunting Reverence:  Meditations on a Northern Land; and Road Angels: Searching for Home on America's Coast of Dreams.

He is best known for Letters to My Son, a book of thoughts and essays on issues of significance for a young person growing up in contemporary America; and the ground breaking trilogy, Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder which won the Minnesota Book award for creative non-fiction in 1995 and has become a standard part of the multi-cultural curriculum in high schools, colleges, and universities across the United States, Europe, and Australia; The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder's Journey through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows, which won the Minnesota Book Award for creative non-fiction in 2009, and The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder, and the Light from an Ancient Sky.

Nerburn has also compiled several anthologies of Native American thought, has produced an updated version of Kent Nerburn has been called One of America's living spiritual teachers by the prestigious Spirituality and Practice web magazine, and has been praised by Harper Collins publishers as “one of the few American writers who can respectfully bridge the gap between Native and non-Native cultures.

Kent's narrative history of the great Nez Perce leader, Chief Joseph and the Flight of the Nez Perce: The Untold Story of an American Tragedy, received praise from historians "a fine book full of fresh insights" (Robert Utley, The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull); "remarkable job of research . . . a poignant, touching tale." (Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States) "as well as from Native Americans - believe everyone should read this book" (Leonard Peltier, Activist/author of My Life as a Sundance) and "the one account that addresses the whole story of the flight of the Nez Perce" (Ruth Wapato, descendant of the Chief Joseph band). Acclaimed novelist Louise Erdrich called it "Storytelling with a greatness of heart."

Recently, a story from Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace:  Living in the Spirit of the Prayer of St. Francis became a worldwide internet phenomenon with over 4 million readings, resulting in its purchase by New Line cinema for production as a major motion picture.  A feature film of Neither Wolf nor Dog has been completed and is currently being offered to national and international film festivals. 

Nerburn is widely sought after as a lecturer and has spoken at high schools, universities, tribal colleges, and private organizations across the country.  His works have been used in “community readsâ€Â and all campus reads programs.  His commentaries on the Red Lake shootings were published in newspapers from New York to the Bay Area and were broadcast on NPR affiliates, as well as through the Pacific News Service.  He has appeared on C-Span and The History Channel.  His works are published in English and foreign language editions in over a dozen countries around the world.

Nerburn and his wife, journalist Louise Mengelkoch, have recently relocated with their geriatric yellow Labrador to the Pacific Northwest after 25 years living in the lake and pine country of northern Minnesota.


"Dr. Nerburn's thoughtful, genuine, and heartfelt comments truly engaged the audience. He did a terrific job."
-- Brad Gioia, Headmaster, Montgomery Bell Academy - Nashville, TN

"Kent's presentation lent grace and poignancy to his written word. We could close our eyes and listen as his spoken words made history live with an emotional impact that reading alone could never provide."
-- Carolynne Merrell, Secretary and board member Nez Perce Trail Foundation

"Dr. Kent Nerburn is a gentle man who can lead audiences to experience with him how cultures are so very different. What is especially valuable is that we learn how our own patterns of thinking do not allow us to recognize those differences. Kent teaches how to think in new ways. Not only that, his public reading and comments are of the highest order of philosophy and belief systems."
-- Lynn Severson, Department of English Bismarck State University

"Kent was the best speaker I've heard in our district in quite some time. He honored multiple perspectives in his talk while addressing the complexities of white privilege. Our teachers need to be pushed on issues of power and privilege. Kent interwove this and his stories very eloquently. Days later, teachers continued to tell me how they thought he was the best speaker they've heard in a while."
-- Tanetha Grosland, Integration Equity Coach North St. Paul, Minnesota school district.



For more about Kent and his works, go to http://kentnerburn.com/

Reviews of The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo: A Child, an Elder, and the Light from an Ancient Sky

"... demonstrates Kent Nerburn's gift: not just to build bridges between the Native and non-Native world, but to transcend those differences with a narrative that speaks to the heart of the human experience."
-- Anton Treuer, Ojibwe author and director of the American Indian Resource Center at Bemidji State University

Reviews of The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder's Journey through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows

"It is . . . a poignant portrait of what it means to be a Native elder and a survivor of the often bitter experience of the Indian boarding schools of the twentieth century."
-- Joseph Bruchac, Abenaki writer and American Book Award winner

"rich storytelling that removes barriers to understanding our common humanity"
-- Winona LaDuke, Native writer and advocate

"... offers a sensitive, insightful glimpse into a Lakota soul, a feat unattainable by most non-Native writers."
-- Joseph Marshall III, Lakota writer

Reviews of Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder

"This is one of those rare works that once you've read it, you can never look at the world, or at people, the same way again."
-- American Indian College fund



Videos featuring Kent Nerburn

October 12, 2014, Kent Nerburn - Speaking to Joan Of Arc Catholic Church






Kent Nerburn Speaking to Gustavus Adolphus college






Kent' Nerburn inteview with British documentarian Imanuel Gonsalves for video, The Four Chambers.






Trek North High School classroom presentation