• Begay, Shonto bio

Children's Author/Illustrator Biographies

Begay, Shonto

The earth home where Shonto Begay was born sat five miles southeast of the community of Shonto, Arizona. He was the fifth child of sixteen born to a Navajo medicine man. Shonto attended federal boarding schools all over the Navajo Indian Reservation in his elementary school years. He attended high school in Kayenta, Arizona; he attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico and received his Associate of Fine Arts degree, and later earned a degree from the California College of Arts & Crafts. He currently resides in Flagstaff, Arizona where he maintains a studio, The Foot of Sacred Mountain Studio. He also maintains ties with his traditional birthplace in Shonto, Arizona, where he has a Hogan/studio.

"My art is an expression of my feelings in all facets of my world. It is a recording of the real and the unreal, the contemporary and the past, the joys and the sadness."

The Earth home where Shonto Begay was born on Febuary 7, 1954 sat five miles southeast of the community of Shonto, Arizona. At that time, civilization consisted of a small trading post, an equally small bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding School, and a few sandstone and mud houses.

He was the fifth child born to a Navajo medicine man. There were to be 11 more. In the early days of his childhood, Shonto was raised in a very traditional Navajo lifestyle. His father was a strict practitioner of Indian ways. He built the homes his children were raised in, he hunted with them in the winter, tended cornfields in the summer. His mother wove rugs and helped to raise the children on the money she received in return. In these early days, Shonto learned to see and hear the world around him. He learned to savor the beauty if the world around him.

Aside from nature, Shonto has always had a love for art. He believed that to "recreate facets of my universe was the adventure of living." From a very young age, he found excitement in the experience of drawing. He developed a deep emotional bond with the natural world around him. In 1976, Shonto graduated with a BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts.

Aside from writing and illustrating children's books, Shonto worked as a park ranger in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he retold the same Native American tales which would later become his books. Shonto currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Biography provided by Scholastic, Inc.

For information on purchasing books by these and other authors, click here.


Educational Book & Media Association is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

P.O. Box 3363, Warrenton, VA 20188
Ph. 540-318-7770


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software