National Museum of the American Indian Awards Ceremony Honors Individuals’ Exceptional Achievement, Contributions to Native American Society

Ceremony To Be Held at Gala Evening Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the Museum’s Diverse Collection
April 26, 2016
News Release
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Composite of awardees

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian announces the honorees of the museum’s 2016 NMAI Awards. The selections are based on significant impact on Indian country that parallels the museum’s mission to support the continuance of culture, traditional values and transitions in contemporary Native life. The ceremony will take place Wednesday, May 11, at the “100 Years: Legacies of Learning Gala,” a centennial celebration of the museum’s vast collection.

The award presentation features remarks by Smithsonian Secretary David J. Skorton; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum; and master of ceremonies, journalist Simon Moya-Smith (Oglala Lakota). The event will be held at the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York City.

“This ceremony recognizes the efforts of six exemplary individuals who have brought lasting cultural contributions to Indian country,” Gover said. “Each honoree reflects the highest values of the National Museum of the American Indian and complements our efforts to underscore the inextricable nature of indigenous cultures from the legacy of the Americas.”

The 2016 awards are the:

  • Innovative Partnership in Repatriation Award, given to Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, vice president and director of The Annenberg Foundation, for his instrumental role in the purchase of 24 sacred American Indian objects from a Parisian auction house with the express purpose of repatriating them to the Hopi and Apache Nations
  • Public Service Award, given to LaDonna Harris (Comanche), Native rights leader and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity, for her advocacy work spanning more than a half century, including serving on advisory boards to Capitol Hill, helping to achieve federal recognition of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin and returning the Taos Blue Lake to the people of the Taos Pueblo
  • Arts Award, given to Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Chippewa/Ojibwe), acclaimed novelist and poet, for significant literary achievement, including a 2015 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a 2012 National Book Award for Fiction for The Round House and a 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction nomination for The Plague of Doves
  • Education and Media Award, given to MTV World’s Rebel Music: Native America, and honoring series creator and executive producer, Nusrat Durrani, and co-executive producers David Sable and Shepard Fairey, for highlighting the efforts of Native youth using music to shed light on issues such as the environment and social justice

For more information and interview requests, contact the museum’s Office of Public Affairs at (212) 514-3823 or

Legacies of Learning Gala

The gala committee co-chairs of the “Legacies of Learning Gala” are Michael Bernstein, Peggy Burns, Valerie and Charles Diker, Lois Sherr Dubin, Margot and John Ernst, Brenda Toineeta Pipestem (Eastern Band of Cherokee), Benita and Stephen Potters, Valerie and Jack Rowe, Jane and Morley Safer, Leslie A. Wheelock (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin) and Randall L. Willis (Oglala Lakota).

The gala is supported by The Endeavor Foundation, GRoW Annenberg and The Rowe Family Foundation. Sponsorship is provided by Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation.

For more information, visit, call (212) 514-3750 or email

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. The museum’s George Gustav Heye Center is located at One Bowling Green in New York City. For additional information, including hours and directions, visit Follow the museum via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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