TITLE: Suzan Shown Harjo Delivers the 2008 Native American History Month Keynote Address
SPEAKER: Suzan Shown Harjo
EVENT DATE: 11/13/2008
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 73 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
Native American activist, journalist and poet Suzan Shown Harjo delivered the keynote address for the Library's 2008 celebration of Native American Heritage Month. The theme was "Celebrating Tribal Nations."
Speaker Biography: Born in Oklahoma, Harjo is Hodulgee Muscogee and a member of the Cheyenne tribe. Her great-grandfather, Chief Bull Bear, was a leader in the Cheyenne resistance against government oppression during the late 19th century. Harjo is founder and president of The Morning Star Institute, a national Native rights organization that promotes Native Peoples' traditions, culture and arts. For the past four decades, she has developed federal Indian policy and succeeded in recovering more than one million acres of land and other sacred places. Harjo is one of seven Native people who filed the 1992 landmark lawsuit, Harjo et al v. Pro Football, Inc., regarding the name of the Washington, D.C., football team. In 1999, a three-judge panel unanimously decided to cancel federal trademark protections for the team's name. The District Court reversed that decision in 2003; the case is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals. Harjo's social and political activism dates back to the late 1960s and early 1970s when she was news director for the American Indian Press Association and producer of "Seeing Red," the first Indian news show in the United States, on WBAI-FM Radio in New York. A veteran broadcaster and award-winning columnist, she founded and co-chaired the Howard Simons Fund for American Indian Journalists. As a special assistant for Indian Legislation in President Carter's administration, Harjo was principal author of the "President's Report to Congress on American Indian Religious Freedom." She served as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1984-1989, and as founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) from 1990-1996. Under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum opened facilities in New York in 1994 and Washington, D.C., in 2004. Currently a guest curator for NMAI, Harjo has curated a number of exhibitions during the past decade, including "Visions from Native America," the first Native art exhibit ever shown in the U.S. Senate and House Rotundas. She has also held a number of visiting fellowships in poetry and Native identity.