National Heritage Fellowship
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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. 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.
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.
National Heritage Fellowship winners include:
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