Doris Duke Artist Awards

Muriel Miguel

Playwright, Choreographer, Actor and Educator

Brooklyn, New York

Muriel Miguel is a theater artist whose work is deeply tied to her roots in the Kuna and Rappahannock nations. She powerfully tells—and preserves for subsequent generations—the stories of Native American, First Nations and Indigenous people around the world, particularly those of women. Further, many of her works give voice to women who have been murdered, abused or gone missing. As creator and director of the 2016 work “Material Witness,” she brought together a multi-generational cast of Indigenous women to share and heal from their real-life experiences of violence. Her 2010 one-woman show “Red Mother” shattered stubborn myths about Native American women, while her play “Fear of Oatmeal,” which debuted in June 2018, explored notions of truth and memory, and the place between the real world and the spirit world in a Native American community in post-Depression-era Brooklyn.

Inspired by the storytellers in her own family, Miguel has been weaving tales such as these for more than four decades, perhaps most notably as a cofounder of Spiderwoman Theater, a groundbreaking feminist theater company rooted in the urban Indigenous performance methodology she developed. She has directed almost all its shows since its inception in 1976. Previously, at only age 12, Miguel cofounded New York City’s The Little Eagles, a group currently active as the Thunderbird Native American Dancers. She also has a long history as a choreographer of modern dance pieces and was one of the original members of Joseph Chaikin’s experimental group The Open Theater.

Among Miguel’s most recent honors are a John S. Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016, Rauschenberg Residency in 2015, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art in 2013, Silvercloud Singers' Community Service Award in 2013 and Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre in 2013.

See the other 2018 Doris Duke Artists