First Sherman Alexie Scholarship Recipient Chosen
Indian Country Today
The first recipient of the Sherman Alexie Scholarship for the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts has been named.
Jamie Natonabah, Diné, will receive $7,500 each semester for four semesters, for a total of $30,000, $24,000 of which will apply to tuition. The remaining $6,000 will help her to pay for travel, books, lodging, and meals during the five residencies in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Natonabah, an alumni of the Institute of American Indian Arts, is from Fort Defiance, Arizona. She has been embracing her love of writing for 28 years, and it has evolved into a thirst for personal truth created mostly through poetry. She won first place in the New Mexico Slam Poetry Competition, and for two years participated in performances of her poetry through funding from the Witter Bynner Foundation. Her work has been published in “Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts & Humanities” as well as the Institute of American Indian Arts Literary Anthologies “Bone Light” and “Fourth World Rising.”
Natonabah currently lives in Santa Fe with her partner Paul and daughter Anastasia Moriarty.
Chelsea Hicks Bryan, Osage, was chosen as a runner-up for the Sherman Alexie Scholarship at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Third Place was awarded to Grace Randolph, Wampanoag. Both will receive significant scholarships as well.
“This year the MFA program will give away over $200,000 in scholarships, including significant scholarships from the Beverly and Michael Morris Foundation and the Truman Capote Trust. The Sherman Alexie Scholarship is the most generous of these awards and will provide Jamie Natonabah a chance to focus on her writing for two years. We look forward to reading what she and her classmates produce as we continue our quest to rewrite the literary landscape,” said Jon Davis, director of the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA program, in a press release.
Those applying for the Sherman Alexie Scholarship must be enrolled members of a Native American tribe or First Nation, and must also submit a creative writing sample.
Initial screening of the scholarship entries was done by IAIA MFA Native faculty, but the final selection was personally made by Sherman Alexie, Spokane/Coeur d’Alene.