TY DEFOE (Giizhig) is from the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations. He is an interdisciplinary-hyphenated artist, activist, writer, cultural worker, and shape-shifter. As a two-spirit person Ty aspires to an integral approach to artistic projects, social justice, indigeneity, and environmentalism. Ty gained recognition in many circles around the world including a Grammy Award for his work on “Come to Me Great Mystery.” Ty’s global cultural arts highlights are: the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt with the Call for Peace Drum and Dance Company; Turkey for the Ankara International Music Festival, and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai. Ty’s frequents his own community where he learned to hoop dance, eagle dance, and play a variety of wooden flutes. Ty is always a guest artist at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and NYC.
Awards include: NEA/NEFA for reconstructing and indigenizing, Drum is Thunder, Flute is Wind, First American in the Arts Outstanding Performance Award, First Americans in the Arts Scholarship Award, an Indigenous Heritage Festival Award: this award is given to artists who have made a major positive impact on indigenous people and rights of the world, a Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence, 2016-2018 Olga J. and G. Roland Denison visiting artist Professorship of Native American Studies at Central Michigan University, 2016-2017 Institute of the American Indian Arts Visiting Artist, 2017 Jonathan Larson Award winner creating book and lyrics on “Clouds Are Pillows for the Moon (w/ composer Tidtaya Sinutoke at Yale Institute for Musical Theatre; ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop), Hart Island Requiem (The Civilians R&D Group), Crossing Borders (CAP 21), Red Pine (Native Voices at the Autry; IAIA of Santa Fe), The Way They Lived (Co-collaboration w Micharne Cloughley and The Civilians at the Met Museum), writer on Ajijaak on Turtle Island (Ibex Puppetry at La MaMa Theater, NYC, Lied Center for the Performing Arts, NE).
Ty is a co-founder of Indigenous Direction (w/ Larissa FastHorse). His writing publications can be viewed in the Pitkin Review, Woody Guthrie Anthology, the Thorny Locust Magazine, and Howl Round. He has received degrees from CalArts, Goddard College, NYU’s Tisch. A Theater Communications Group Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellow alumni and an artEquity facilitator. He guest appeared on Netflix show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt as Young Anthony Black Elk and recently made his Broadway debut in Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men directed by Anna Shapiro. He lives in NYC and loves the color clear.
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