Every year NWCA honors an outstanding Indigenous author with the Lifetime Achievement Award. There is an illustrious list of Lifetime Achievement Award winners including N. Scott Momaday, Simon J. Ortiz, Leslie Marmon Silko, Joy Harjo, Vine Deloria, Jr., James Welch, Linda Hogan, Joseph Bruchac, and Louise Erdrich to name a few. NWCA has also honored Indigenous authors who have yet to publish a full-length book with First Book Awards. These are some of the only literary awards presented to Native Americans by Native Americans.
NWCA awards are traditionally given at the Returning The Gift Festival. While the First Book Awards are currently on temporary hiatus, NWCA is seeking partners to help bring this honor back soon.