NEWS RELEASE                      

For Immediate Release




Eric Davis, Marketing & Communications Director

505.424.2351, or 



Tommy Orange and Terese Mailhot
Receive Major Literary Awards
PEN/Hemingway and Whiting Non-Fiction Awards
to IAIA MFA '16 Alumni

Santa Fe: March 28, 2019.

Two IAIA MFA '16 alumni, both of whom have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers List this year -- Terese Mailhot (Seabird Island Band) and Tommy Orange (Cheyenne/Arapaho), have received major literary awards this month -- Terese won the 2019 Whiting Award for Non-Fiction for her book Heart Berries: A Memoir (Counterpoint, 2018); and Tommy won the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award for his "distinguished" debut novel There There (Knopf, 2018).

TERESE MARIE MAILHOT. Photo, Mark Woodward.

Terese Marie Mailhot graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) with an MFA in Creative Writing - Fiction. Mailhot's work has appeared in  The Rumpus, the Los Angeles Times, Carve Magazine , and elsewhere. The recipient of several fellowships - SWAIA Discovery Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Writing by Writers Fellowship, and the Elk Writer's Workshop Fellowship - she was recently named the Tecumseh Postdoctoral Fellow at Purdue University and resides in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Whiting Awards, established by the Whiting Foundation in 1985, remain one of the most esteemed and largest monetary gifts ($50,000) to emerging writers, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior literary work to come. Eight million has been awarded to 340 fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and playwrights to date.  Terese is the fourth member of the IAIA MFA program to win one of the Whiting Awards.

TOMMY ORANGE. Photo, Liz Hafalia, San Francisco Chronicle

Tommy Orange is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, and was born and raised in Oakland, California. He received his MFA in Creative Writing - Fiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), and was a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. The PEN/Hemingway Award was founded in 1976 by Mary Hemingway, the widow of Ernest Hemingway, to honor her late husband and draw attention to debut novels. 

Interim Director of the IAIA MFA Program, Dr. Jennifer Elise Foerster ( Muscogee [Creek] Nation of Oklahoma), observed: " There There  and  Heart Berries  are two books that are doing the best kind of work: changing people's lives. These are works of bravery, integrity, and compassion. The recognition of these books and their accomplished writers offers us all inspiration and hope for a better future.  I feel honored for Tommy Orange and Terese Mailhot to be among our IAIA community as writers, teachers, and colleagues."

IAIA President, Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee), remarked that "Native voices are vital to illuminating the Native experience in contemporary society; these two award winning writers' inaugural books are outstanding in capturing and understanding the essence of existence in the 21st Century from their unique perspectives.   As IAIA alumni and current MFA Creative Writing faculty members, we  are extremely proud of the enormous success of Tommy and Terese."

For further information, or to interview either of the winners, please contact Eric Davis at 505.424.2351, or

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Offering undergraduate degrees in Studio Arts, Creative Writing, Cinematic Arts and Technology, Indigenous Liberal Studies, Museum Studies, and Performing Arts -- an MFA in Creative Writing -- along with certificates in Business and Entrepreneurship, Museum Studies, and Native American Art History -- IAIA is the only college in the nation dedicated to the study of contemporary Native arts. The school serves 495 full time equivalent (FTE) Native and non-Native American college students from across the globe.  IAIA is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission -- and is the only college in New Mexico accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design

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