The daughter of a Hopi father, Rose grew up feeling distanced from both Hopi and white society. She spent a troubled adolescence before attending college and eventually earning her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. As a Native American, she has claimed to have often felt like a spy in the field of anthropology.
Her poetry is influenced by ethnography, her personal experience of identity, and both her political and feminist stances; her subjects include alienation and ecology. She has written of aboriginal cultures outside of the United States, including a persona poem on the Tasmanian woman Truganniny. In addition to poetry, Rose writes nonfiction, often addressing issues of appropriation of Native American culture, including “whiteshamanism,” the misuse of the shaman identity by white writers.