Susan Shown Hajo

Susan Shown Hajo

Activist & Journalist

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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.

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“I want to extend my heartfelt “thank you” for all you did in helping us host Ms. April Ryan as our 2018 MLK, Jr. keynote speaker. Ms. Ryan was absolutely amazing last night!! She was captiva ...
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~ Marion Sanford, Director, University of Mary Washington
~ Marion Sanford, Director, University of Mary Washington

“I want to extend my heartfelt “thank you” for all you did in helping us host Ms. April Ryan as our 2018 MLK, Jr. keynote speaker. Ms. Ryan was absolutely amazing last night!! She was captivating, insightful, and delivered a powerful message with words of hope, love, and a call to action to the audience. They were utterly enthralled by her presence and presentation.

I would like to also add that I thoroughly enjoyed the pleasure of meeting Ms. Ryan. She was so personable, pleasant, down-to-earth and very gracious and accommodating with the guests. She was patient with each question and stayed until every person had their book signed or picture taken. I would not hesitate to have her visit our campus again. I was so impressed and grateful for her contributions to our campus community in this role, but even more so for the work and accomplishments she is making in journalism, politics, and keeping integrity in the profession.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the wonderful and professional work of Ms. Kim Lowery in her role in ensuring a positive and successful program. She was thorough in providing the details of the travel itinerary and ensured that we had all the information necessary in preparation for Ms. Ryan’s visit. It was a pleasure working with her on this engagement.

Thank you again for the work you do and the rewarding collaborations we enjoy with your agency. I look forward to future interactions.”

“Meeting you both today was a great experience for me and my career development! I learned so much and truly valued your expertise, insight and probing questions. You really got my wheels turning an ...
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~ A. Gordon, Corporate Executive
~ A. Gordon, Corporate Executive

“Meeting you both today was a great experience for me and my career development! I learned so much and truly valued your expertise, insight and probing questions. You really got my wheels turning and focused solely on the success of building my brand. As I mentioned, this was a new experience for me and it was a great opportunity to be ultra successful in 2015! As I recap my notes, I just wanted to send you a note of sincere thanks.”

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