National Heritage Fellowship

The National Heritage Fellowship is a lifetime honor presented to master folk and traditional artists by the National Endowment for the Arts. Similar to Japan's Living National Treasure award, the Fellowship is the United States' highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. It is a one-time only award and fellows must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

The program began in 1982. Each year, fellowships are presented to between ten and fifteen artists or groups at a White House ceremony in Washington, D.C. A biographical dictionary of the award winners from the first 20 years was published in 2001.[1] A young readers book featuring five of the National Heritage Fellows entitled "Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five American Masters of Traditional Arts" was published in 2006.[2]


Awardees have included Native American basket weavers, African American blues musicians, traditional fiddlers, Mexican American accordionists, and all manner of traditional artisans and performers of numerous ethnic backgrounds.

1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990

1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000

2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

National Heritage Fellowship winners include:





  • Helen Cordero, potter




  • Vanessa Paukeigope Jennings, Kiowa Regalia Maker
  • LaVaughn Robinson, tap dancer and choreographer
  • Earl Scruggs, Banjo musician
  • Chesley Goseyun Wilson, Apache fiddle maker[3]


  • Kevin Locke Lakota Flute Player/Singer/Dancer/Storyteller Mobridge, SD
  • Wally McRae Cowboy Poet Colstrip Montana
  • Em Bun Cambodian Silk Weaver Harrisburg, PA



  • Fatima Kuinova, Bukharan Jewish singer "Merited Artist of the Soviet Union"[4]
  • Jerry Brown stoneware potter[5]
  • T. Viswanathan, South Indian flutist and vocalist


  • Elder Roma Wilson, gospel blues harmonica player[6]






  • Bounxou Chanthraphone, Laotian American weaver
  • The Dixie Hummingbirds, African American Gospel Quartet
  • José González, hammock weaver
  • Nettie Jackson, Klickitat basketmaker
  • Santiago Jiménez, Jr., Tejano Accordionist
  • Genoa Keawe, Native Hawaiian singer and ukulele player
  • Frankie Manning, lindy hop dancer and choreographer
  • Joe Willie "Pinetop" Perkins, blues piano player
  • Konstantinos Pilarinos, Orthodox Byzantine icon woodcarver
  • Chris Strachwitz, record producer and label founder
  • Dorothy Thompson, weaver
  • Felipe García Villamil, Afro-Cuban drummer and santero
  • Don Walser, Western singer and guitarist


  • Wilson "Boozoo" Chavis, Creole zydeco accordionist
  • Celestino Avilés, santero
  • Mozell Benson, quilter
  • Hazel Dickens, Appalachian singer and songwriter
  • João Oliveira dos Santos (Mestre João Grande), Capoeira Angola master
  • Evalena Henry, Apache basketweaver
  • Peter Kyvelos, oud maker
  • Eddie Pennington, thumbpicking-style guitarist
  • Qi Shu Fang, Beijing Opera performer
  • Seiichi Tanaka, Taiko drummer and dojo founder
  • Dorothy Trumpold, rug weaver
  • Fred Tsoodle, Kiowa sacred song leader
  • Joseph Wilson[disambiguation needed ], folklorist


  • Ralph Blizard, fiddler
  • Loren Bommelyn, Tolowa tradition bearer
  • Kevin Burke, Irish American fidler
  • Rose Cree and Francis Cree, Ojibwe basketmakers and storytellers
  • Nadim Dlaikan, nye[disambiguation needed ] (reed flute) player
  • Luderin Darbone and Edwin Duhon, Cajun fiddler and accordionist
  • David "Honeyboy" Edwards, blues guitarist and singer
  • Flory Jagoda, Jewish-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist
  • Clara Neptune Keezer, Passamaquoddy basketmaker
  • Bob McQuillen, Contra dance musician and composer
  • Domingo Saldivar, Conjunto accordionist
  • Losang Samten, Tibetan monk and creator of sandpaintings
  • Jean Ritchie, Appalachian musician and songwriter


  • Rosa Elena Egipciaco, mundillo maker (Puerto Rican Bobbin Lace)
  • Agnes "Oshanee" Kenmille, Salish beadworker and regalia maker
  • Norman Kennedy, Scottish weaver, singer, storyteller
  • Roberto Martinez and Lorenzo Martinez, father and son musicians
  • Norma Miller, African American Swing Dancer/Choreographer
  • Ron Poast, Hardanger fiddle maker
  • Felipe I. Ruak and Joseph K. Ruak, father and son Carolinian stick dancers
  • Manoochehr Sadeghi, santur player
  • Jesus Arriada, Johnny Curutchet, Martin Goicoechea and Jesus Goni, Basque (Bertsolari) poets


  • Anjani Ambegaokar, Kathak dancer
  • Charles "Chuck" T. Campbell, Gospel steel guitarist
  • Joe Derrane, Irish-American button accordionist
  • Jerry Douglas, Dobro player
  • Gerald "Subiyay" Miller, Skokomish tradition bearer, carver, basket maker
  • Chum Ngek, Cambodian musician and teacher
  • Milan Opacich, Tamburitza instrument maker
  • Eliseo Rodriguez and Paula Rodriguez, husband and wife straw appliqué artists
  • Koko Taylor, blues musician
  • Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu, Chinese rod puppeteers [4]




  • Nicholas Benson, stone letter cutter and calligrapher
  • Sidiki Conde, Guinean dancer and musician
  • Violet Kazue de Cristoforo, Haiku poet and historian
  • Roland Freeman, photo documentarian, author, and exhibit Curator
  • Pat Courtney Gold, Wasco sally bag weaver
  • Eddie Kamae, Hawaiian musician
  • Agustin Lira, Chicano singer and musician,
  • Julia Parker, Kashia Pomo basketmaker
  • Mary Jane Queen, Appalachian musician
  • Joe Thompson[disambiguation needed ], string band musician
  • Irvin Trujillo, Rio Grande weaver
  • Elaine Hoffman Watts, Klezmer musician


  • Horace Axtell, Nez Perce drum maker, singer, tradition-bearer
  • Dale Harwood, saddlemaker
  • Bettye Kimbrell, quilter
  • Jeronimo E. Lozano, Peruvian retablo maker
  • Oneida Hymn Singers of Wisconsin
  • Sue Yeon Park, Korean dancer and musician
  • Moges Seyoum, Ethiopian liturgical minister and scholar
  • Jelon Vieira, Capoeira master
  • Dr. Michael White, traditional jazz musician and bandleader
  • Mac Wiseman, Bluegrass musician
  • Walter Murray Chiesa, traditional arts specialist and advocate



  • Yacub Addy
  • Jim "Texas Shorty" Chancellor
  • GLadys Kukana Grace
  • Mary Jackson
  • Delano Floyd "Del" McCoury
  • Judith McCulloh
  • Kamala Lakshmi Narayanan
  • Mike Rafferty
  • Ezequiel Torres

External links


  1. ^ [1] Masters of Traditional Arts: A Biographical Dictionary
  2. ^ [2] Extraordinary Ordinary People: Five American Masters of Traditional Arts
  3. ^ 1989 NEA National Heritage Fellow: Chesley Goseyun Wilson, National Endowment for the Arts (USA)
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ "(listing for) Jerry Brown". National endowment for the Arts. Retrieved 2009-12-19. 
  6. ^ "Elder Roma Wilson". Retrieved October 28, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Lifetime Honors: Bruce Caesar." National Endowment for the Arts. (retrieved 6 Aug 2011)
  8. ^ "Big Joe Duskin; Bluesman who flourished in later life - obituary by Tony Russell". London: June 19, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2009. 
  9. ^ A short autobiography of Ka‘upena

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