Tanaya Winder is a citizen of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. She is also Pyramid Lake Paiute, and Southern Ute. She grew up in Ignacio, Colorado, on the Southern Ute Reservation. She describes herself as a writer, artist, manager, and oh yeah, the Director of an Upward Bound program.
As a kid, Tanaya knew she would attend Stanford. She just knew it. Tanaya thought she would become a lawyer, but wanted some exposure to liberal arts while an undergraduate. She applied to other schools, and was admitted to these schools, but ultimately decided to fulfill her goal that she had for years to attend Stanford. There were some moments when the certainty was in question.
After her grandfather passed away while she was in high school, she spent time working at a casino instead of attending school (though she had enough credits). She thought that she would just continue working at the casino until she realized her grandfather would want her to finish her education. When she returned to school, one of the few classes that would allow her to enroll was a creative writing class. Tanaya Winder found the writing helped her through the difficult time after her grandfather’s death.
While attending Stanford, Tanaya eventually switched majors to focus on her creative side. It took time for her to overcome imposter syndrome. After enduring a friend’s suicide, she found that the creative writing continued to help her process her grief. She eventually went on to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico, all the while trying to find her voice as an artist. She did, and now she has a collection of works published in the book Words Like Love. Continue reading