Ofelia Zepeda is a member of the Tohono O’odham tribe. She was born in the rural farming community of Stanfield, Arizona. Her parents’ families are originally from O’odham villages in Sonora, Mexico. Her poetry reflects both worlds, that of her parents, and her own as a contemporary O’odham. Her first collection of poems, Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert, reflects her experiences growing up with her daily life being influenced by the desert landscape and weather.
Ofelia is a professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona, teaching courses on the O’odham language, American Indian linguistics and language education, and creative writing for native speakers of southwestern Indian languages. She won the prestigious MacArthur Award in 1999 for her work toward maintaining native languages.