A Native American writer of children's literature, poetry, and novels, she received the National Book Award for Fiction for her 2012 novel, The Round House. Her other notable works include Tracks (novel), Jacklight (poems), and The Birchbark House (children's book).
She earned a Master's degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University after receiving her Bachelor's degree in English from Dartmouth. She published her first novel, Love Medicine, in 1984.
Her novel, The Plague of Doves, was a finalist for the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
She was born in Little Falls, Minnesota. With her husband, Michael Dorris, she had three biological and three adopted children.
She defeated Junot Diaz to win the National Book Award in 2012.