Gordon Henry Jr. is an Anishinabe and an enrolled member of the White Earth Chippewa Tribe of Minnesota. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, Parkside; an MA in English and creative writing from Michigan State University; and a PhD from the University of North Dakota. He is the author of the poetry chapbook Outside White Earth (1986) and the book-length collection The Failure of Certain Charms (2007). The Light People (1994), a novel, won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Henry has also co-authored the textbook The Ojibway (2004).
He also held a Fulbright Lectureship in Spain in 1994. Henry is a professor of English at Michigan State University, where he teaches courses in American literature, creative writing, and American Indian literature and editor of the American Indian Studies Series at Michigan State University Press. Under his editorship the AISS has published research and creative work by an array of scholars, working in a variety of disciplines, related to the larger field of American Indian Studies.
While serving as Director of the Native American Institute at Michigan State, he founded, along with Ellen Cushman, the Native American Youth Film Institute. As an offshoot of that project Professor Henry is working with the NAI and the Michigan Inter-Tribal Council, on Indigistory, a community-based digital storytelling project.