Press Release: April 27, 2016

The Autry Announces 2016 Butcher Scholar Award

Cherokee writer, actor, and activist DeLanna Studi to receive $5,000 to support the development of her play, And So We Walked: An Artist's Journey Along the Trail of Tears 

Los Angeles, CA (April 27, 2016)—The Autry Museum of the American West announces DeLanna Studi (Cherokee) as the winner of the 2016 Butcher Scholar Award, which supports innovative projects that promise to deepen our understanding of the history of diverse women in the historical and contemporary American West. The Autry selected Studi for And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears, a play she is developing to reveal the intergenerational impact of the Trail of Tears, a series of forced relocations of Native Americans following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. “The Autry is thrilled to publicly recognize DeLanna’s talents, creativity, and dedication to exploring forgotten aspects of our shared American history. Her writing inspires us to take a deeper look at the Trail of Tears experience from a variety of community perspectives, truly connecting the past with the present to inspire our shared future,” said W. Richard West, Jr., the Autry's President and CEO. 

An award-winning actor and activist, Studi has served as the SAG-AFTRA Native Americans Committee National Chair and Assistant Field Director of The Cante Sica Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing the stories of individuals who experienced the American Indian Boarding School system. For Studi's first play, And So We Walked: An Artist’s Journey Along the Trail of Tears, she has been traveling with her father, Thomas Studie (Cherokee), to collect oral histories along the trail's Northern route. Her goal is to create a one-woman play that can travel to schools, theatres, and community centers across the United States.

Studi is a member of the Artists Ensemble for Native Voices at the Autry, the country’s only Equity theatre company dedicated exclusively to producing new works by Native American, Alaska Native, and First Nations playwrights. She will continue to develop her play during Native Voices’ 2016 Playwrights Retreat in May before presenting public readings of her script during the 2016 Festival of New Plays at the Autry on June 4 and at La Jolla Playhouse on June 8.

"From an early age, my father advised me that wherever I went in the world, I should always seek out the Natives in that community, and among them I would find home. Native Voices and the Autry have been that home for me in Hollywood by supporting, encouraging, and challenging me to pursue my dreams, including walking the Northern route of the Trail of Tears with my father and bringing that story to a wider audience," Studi said. "I am deeply honored to receive this award and will always be grateful to these important arts and cultural organizations that helped shape me as an actor, advocate, and Native American woman."

Additional project partners for And So We Walked: An Artist's Journey along the Trail of Tears include the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts, in partnership with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians; the American Indian Center and Center for the Study of the American South at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill; Museum of the Cherokee Indian; National Trail of Tears Association; and Unto These Hills. As part of the 2016-2017 anniversary season of Triad Stage in North Carolina, And So We Walked: An Artist's Journey along the Trail of Tears will be presented April 19-30, 2017, at Hanesbrands Theatre in Winston Salem, North Carolina, produced in collaboration with the Arts and Society Initiative of the Thomas S. Kenan Institute for the Arts. 

About the Butcher Scholar Award

Established in 2001, the Butcher Scholar Award provides up to $5,000 to support innovative projects that promise to deepen our understanding of the history of diverse women in the historical and contemporary American West. Honoring the vision, leadership, and generosity of Jane and Charlie Butcher, the Award has supported public historians, academic scholars, writers, and artists. Originally offered by the Women of the West Museum, the Award has been presented by the Autry since 2002, when the Autry merged with the Women of the West Museum.

About the Autry Museum of the American West

The Autry is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past to the present to inspire our shared future. The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs—including lectures, film, theatre, festivals, family events, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant of Native American materials in the United States.

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