Amy Krout-Horn, Oieihake Win (Last Word Woman) has resided in two worlds; the world of the sighted and the world of the blind. She has been a writer in both of them. Born in 1969, she was raised in a small northwest Iowa farm community. At age six, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, which, through the years, has posed both stumbling blocks, as well as step ladders, along her path. Very early, she discovered the wonderful escape books provide, and in their pages, found refuge from the discomforts of her chronic illness. Over the course of her youth, Krout-Horn’s love of literature proliferated into a passion for writing. At age eleven, recognizing a lack of stories that featured young people like her, she authored a book for diabetic children, which the Iowa affiliate of the American Diabetes Association produced and distributed. In her teens, she exercised her journalistic talents as a columnist and won an Iowa regional young writer’s award for fictional short stories. Krout-Horn danced and sang her way through productions of Fiddler on the Roof and The Sound of Music, dabbled in the art of black and white photography, and shortly after the Wall fell, drank champagne with reveling Berliners.
The second leg of Krout-Horn’s journey began in 1991, while attending the University of Iowa. Within a six month period, due to diabetic retinopathy, her vision rapidly faded, until she was totally blind. This provided an unexpected and challenging twist, closed the chapter on her first twenty years, and propelled her into “Part II” of her story. After graduating from BLIND Inc., a Minneapolis based adult rehabilitation training center which students affectionately refer to as “Boot Camp for the Blind,” she returned to college. She earned a bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies and psychology from the University of Minnesota. While enrolled, she became proficient in Dakota, an indigenous language with less than a hundred fluent speakers world-wide, and worked as the American Indian studies department’s first blind teaching assistant. It was during this time that her Dakota mentor gave her the traditional name, Oieihake Win, (Last Word Woman).
A staunch advocate for social and environmental justice, she writes and lectures on native history and culture, diabetes and disability, and humanity’s connection and commitment to the natural world. Krout-Horn spent time in Washington DC as a political lobbyist for the disabled and has been a presenter at several seminars, lectures, and classroom workshops on blindness and cultural sensitivity. She works as a guest professorial assistant in the creative writing program at St. Petersburg College and, during the 2007 spring semester, helped create the curriculum for a Native American literature class at the University of South Florida, where she also served as a native language and culture liaison. In November 2008, Krout-Horn gave the opening address in honor of Native American Heritage month at St. Petersburg College. Interviews with her have been featured on Radio for Peace International’s Wolf Mountain Radio Program.
Whether she is swimming with dolphins, cuddling with her beloved female companion, Ishtazi, a hundred twenty pound adopted wolf, or body surfing in the Gulf of Mexico, Amy Krout-Horn embraces life with a tenacity of spirit she attributes to her Native American ancestry. She resides in Florida and with the contributions of her life partner, Gabriel, co-authored the novel, Transcendence (All Things That Matter Press, 2009). Her autobiographical novel, My Father’s Blood, was published in 2011(All Things That Matter Press). She is a regular contributor to Slate and Style magazine, and she was awarded the publication’s 2008 top fiction prize for her short story, War Pony. Her essays and stories have appeared in several magazines and journals, including Breath and Shadow, Talking Stick Native Arts Quarterly, and Independent Ink. She currently is working on a novel, Dancing in Concrete Moccasins.