Located outside of Sante Fe New Mexico, The Institute of American Indian Arts has the first indigenous Master of Fine Arts program in the US. The program at IAIA is taught (mostly) by Natives, to Natives.
The goal of the IAIA program is to educate, to mentor and to launch a new style of Native literature by rejecting the conventional standards of white academic teaching. Many AIAI graduates move on to secure successful art careers. Teresa Marie Mailhot and Tommy Orange are the first graduates of The Institute of American Indian Arts who have returned to teach.
These Native American authors books were released within weeks of each other. Mailhot’s new memoir, Heart Berries was one of the most anticipated book releases of 2018. The book focuses on her life in the years between the foster care system and arriving at IAIA. Oranges book, There There tells the present-day story of twelve people gathered in Oakland for a powwow. Orange found himself in the middle of bidding war to publish his work that spanned several days.
Both authors were eager to finish and publish their works so they could return to teaching. At IAIA, students in he MFA program meet twice each year for intense eight-day sessions. This system makes it easier for those in the program to continue their education while raising families, working and living their lives. Successful artists returning to IAIA to share their knowledge and teach others seem to validate the success of the program.