Iakowi:he’ne’ Oakes has been honored with the inaugural Lucille Lortel Foundation Indigenous Theatermaker Award, presented by the Dramatists Guild Foundation. Oakes is being recognized for her work as the founder and director of the North American Indigenous Center of New York: (for) Culture, Equity and Economic Development (NAIC-NY).
The Indigenous Theatermaker Award, which is part of DGF’s commitment to the inclusion of Indigenous dramatists’ voices, will be presented to Oakes at the Dramatists Guild Awards celebration on May 15.
The award, which comes with a $20,000 prize, is presented to an Indigenous theater institution or organization committed to the advancement of Indigenous theatermakers within New York (outside of New York City) or Connecticut.
Oakes is a cultural curator and has produced programs for Premier Native Theater as well as cultural symposiums, workshops, lectures, panels and seminars — among many other endeavors. She is a Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (“People of the Flint”) woman who was born and raised in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, a federally recognized Tribal Nation.
NAIC-NY, according to its website, “approaches its community-organizing efforts in concentric tribal-nation-specific, intertribal, and pan-Indigenous ways, building synergistically across intersections of health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), environment (land, water, access, justice), culture (traditional knowledge, contemporary contexts), arts (visual, acoustic, performative, written, culinary) and community and technology (in person and online, indoors wherever we build community and outdoors on our lands and waters).”
Oakes was chosen after a committee of theater professionals and dramatists from around the country nominated Indigenous theatermaking institutions and organizations. The nominated founders and directors of the organizations were interviewed and from that, Oakes and the NAIC-NY was selected as the recipient. According to a representative for DGF, the eligibility and selection process will continue to be evaluated as the foundation speaks to Indigenous theatermakers about their needs in storytelling.
DGF is a national charity that supports writers at all stages of their careers.