A member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Gladys Cardiff was born in Browning, Montana, and grew up in Seattle, Washington. Her mother was of Irish and Welsh descent, her father a member of the Owl clan of the North Carolina Cherokee. Cardiff received an MFA from the University of Washington, where she studied with the poet Theodore Roethke, and a PhD in literature from Western Michigan University.
Cardiff’s collections of poetry are To Frighten a Storm (1976), winner of the Washington State Governor’s First Book Award, and A Bare Unpainted Table (1999). Her poems have been anthologized in From the Belly of the Shark (1973), Carriers of the Dream Wheel (1981), Songs from This Earth on the Turtle’s Back (1983), Harper’s Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry (1988), and Reinventing the Enemy’s Language (1998). She has received prizes from the Seattle Arts Commission and currently teaches at Oakland University in Michigan.