MacArthur Foundation: Larissa FastHorse, Playwright | 2020 MacArthur Fellow
Sicangu playwright wins MacArthur “Genius” Grant
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Native Sun News Today Staff Writer

Larissa FastHorse, a Santa Monica based playwright from South Dakota, ignored several calls from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation because she thought they were spam.

The MacArthur Foundation eventually sent her a text asking to talk with FastHorse. She thought that the meaning of the call would be to contract her consulting firm, Indigenous Direction, which helps organizations and artists create culturally appropriate material about Native communities.

The call, however, was to inform FastHorse that she had received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant which doles out $625,000 over five years with no strings attached. Its formal name is The MacArthur Fellows Program.

“I’ve known about the award for a long time and always dreamed of it, but never thought I would get it,” said FastHorse. “I’m just a girl from South Dakota.”

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Larissa FastHorse. Photo © John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation – used with permission

The MacArthur Fellows Program is awarded to between 20 to 30 individuals each year and the recipients can work in any field. The Program defines its recipients as having shown “extraordinary originality and dedications in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

FastHorse was awarded the prize for “creating space for Indigenous artists, stories and experiences in mainstream theater and countering misrepresentation of Native American perspectives in broader society.”

Growing up in Winner and Pierre in South Dakota, FastHorse is a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She began her career as a ballet dancer but was forced to retire after 10 years due to an injury. She then became involved in Native American drama and film, and eventually began writing and directing her own plays.

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