He is the son of the writer Natachee Scott Momaday and the painter Al Momaday, and was born on February 27, 1934 at the Kiowa-Comanche Indian Hospital in Lawton, Oklahoma, United States. He is enrolled in the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma but also has Cherokee heritage from his mother.
He was also featured in the Ken Burns and Stephen Ives' documentary, The West, for his masterful retelling of Kiowa history and legend. Momaday is also featured in another PBS documentary concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Momaday is the Oklahoma Centennial Poet Laureate
In 1992, Momaday received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas. He also a 2007 National Medal of Arts by former President George W. Bush.. N. Scott Momaday received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Illinois at Chicago on May 9, 2010.
Momaday founded and operates the Rainy Mountain Foundation and Buffalo Trust, a nonprofit organization working to preserve native cultures. He paints in watercolors and illustrated his own book, In the Bear's House.