​​Olga J. and G. Roland Denison Visiting Professorship of Native American Studies​

Ty Defoe is a writer, cultural educator and multi-disciplinary performance artist​ known for percussion, flute playing, and hoop and eagle dancing. Defoe aspires to use artistic practice to challenge the formulas of privilege and improve racial and cultural diversity. Defoe won a Grammy Award in 2011 for the album Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs.



​From 2013-2015, Defoe completed a two-year fellowship with the Theatre Communications Group's Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Institute​, focusing on efforts to establish a baseline and develop action-oriented programming in racial and cultural diversity. From 2008-2013, Defoe was a founding member and artistic director of Native Punx, creating landmark projects and collaborations with prestigious artists and educators to enhance the diversity within Native American people and non Native American people in the arts.

​Ty Defoe received a Master of Fine Arts in graduate musical theatre writing from New York University in 2013, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Goddard College in 2012, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute of the Arts in 2010.

2014 Yale Institute for Musical Theatre, selected artist
2014 Johnny Mercer at Goodspeed Musicals, Artist in Residence for WOUNDED KNEE Project.
2013 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist in Residence 
2011 Grammy Award Winner for Native American album: 
        “Come to Me Great Mystery, Native American Healing Songs”

Fall 2016​ Presentations at CMU

Ty Defoe

Monday, October 17
7:00 p.m.
Bovee U.C. Terrace Rooms
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Ty Defoe hosted an evening of embodied movement and music and read excerpts from his new manuscript.

Ty Defoe presents an evening of embodied movement & music

Indigenous People's Day

Monday, October 10
7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Moore Hall Kiva
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Ty Defoe was the keynote speaker for Indigenous People's Day at Central Michigan University. ​Participants learned the historical evolution of pow-wow protocols and the impact colonization placed on them. By deconstructing gender binaries and through theory and practice, students worked to re-define how they see themselves in the pow-wow circle. 

This event provided a safe place for everyone. We strive to teach movement in a healthy way by welcoming all genders, tribes. body types, and sexual orientations. The event was open to all ages, first timers, or the advanced. Participants learned exercise, complex movements, and deconstructing what we know as pow-wow today.​

CM Life event coverage

Classroom Visits & Presentations

Ty Defoe met with numerous classes and organizations between September 19 and October 18, 2016. All costs were covered by the Denison Professorship and the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences. View fl​ier