Three NACF Artists honored with MacArthur “Genius” Awards

Blog, NACF

Congratulations to Native Arts & Cultures Foundation (NACF) alumni Raven Chacon (Diné), Dyani White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) and Patrick Makuakāne (Native Hawaiian) for being honored with a MacArthur “Genius” Award.

The MacArthur Fellowship is a $800,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.

As always we are so proud to see artists NACF supported many years ago, earlier in their careers, continue to do great things!

Fellows are nominated and endorsed by their peers and communities through an often years-long process that the foundation oversees. They do not apply and are never officially interviewed for the fellowship before it’s awarded.

In 2014, sound artist Raven Chacon (Diné) was awarded an NACF Artist Fellowship. His project was to innovate new sounds for the string quartet ETHEL (NYC) and to create archival recordings of Navajo songs in Chinle, Ariz.

Then in 2021 Raven and accomplished guitarist and bassist Michael Begay (Diné) were granted the SHIFT – Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts award. Raven and Michael’s SHIFT project, “Native American Composer Apprentice Project”, was to mentor, support, promote, and amplify young creative voices on the Navajo and Hopi Nations. The project provided its apprentice composers a complete composer experience, from inspiration to realization, with practical instruction in music theory, notation, instrumentation, and music software, including how to use Native symbolism and music/aesthetic concepts in their own original works, providing them tools to express their unique voices. They partnered with the Grand Canyon Music Festival to co-manage the project.



In 2017 Dyani White Hawk (Sicangu Lakota) was awarded the NACF Mentor Artist Fellowship. For her fellowship, Dyani White Hawk taught Lakota beading and porcupine quillwork techniques to her apprentice, Jennie Kappenman (Red Lake Ojibwe), for the creation of a collaborative mixed media project. This was a cross-cultural exchange by working with an apprentice from a neighboring tribe. Both artists—through research in museum collections and exhibitions—deepened their understanding of the meaning and interpretation of their respective tribe’s traditional works and designs that was then applied in a contemporary visual concept for their collaborative project.


Kumu hula Patrick Makuakāne (Native Hawaiian) was honored with a 2014 NACF Artist Fellowship in Dance.



In 2014 Kumu hula Patrick Makuakāne (Native Hawaiian) was awarded an NACF Artist Fellowship. For his fellowship in dance, Patrick was able to return to Hawai’i for an extended stay to delve into the scholarly aspects of Hawaiian history, language and cultural studies to inspire future works.

Patrick studied hula from the age of 13 and studied under hula master Mae Kamāmalu Klein to become a kumu hula. He has gone on to receive numerous awards and has performed with the Brothers Cazimero at Carnegie Hall. In 1985, he founded his halau and now teaches hundreds of students each year from his San Francisco-based company.

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