Natalie Diaz was born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community. She earned a BA from Old Dominion University, where she received a full athletic scholarship. Diaz played professional basketball in Europe and Asia before returning to Old Dominion to earn an MFA. She is the author of the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012), which New York Times reviewer Eric McHenry described as an “ambitious … beautiful book.” Her honors and awards include the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from Bread Loaf, the Narrative Poetry Prize, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship.
Diaz lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she has worked with the last speakers of Mojave and directed a language revitalization program. In a PBS interview, she spoke of the connection between writing and experience: "for me writing is kind of a way for me to explore why I want things and why I'm afraid of things and why I worry about things. And for me, all of those things represent a kind of hunger that comes with being raised in a place like this.”