The Dramatist Guild Foundation has named Iakowi:he’ne’ Oakes as the first recipient of the Lucille Lortel Foundation Indigenous Theatermaker Award. The award will be presented to Oakes at part of the Dramatists Guild Awards celebration May 15 at Joe’s Pub in New York City.
Oakes is the founder and director of the North American Indigenous Center of New York, a community center located in downtown Manhattan. She is a Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (“People of the Flint”) woman, born and raised Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, a federally recognized tribal nation that straddles the border of New York, Ontario, and Quebec.
Through the center, Oakes' has partnered with many organizations and developed numerous programs and gatherings including Native Census NYC, Premier Native Theater, the FIT Native workout series, Two Spirit gatherings, Come to the Fire events, women’s empowerment gatherings, elder programming, traditional medicines programs, Native socials, Indigenous language forums, Native American heritage symposiums, Northeastern Native Arts Festival, and traditional to contemporary Native American arts and design workshop series, lectures, panels, and seminars.
The award is presented to an Indigenous theatre institution or organization for their work and commitment to the preservation of Indigenous theatermakers located in New York or Connecticut. In addition to the honor, the award comes with $20,000 to further the work of the institution or organization.