West Virginia University’s Native American Studies Program will welcome Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne, Hodulgee) to campus as the 2010 Elder-in-Residence from April 11-16.

“I’m excited to return to WVU to share my literary work and discuss my efforts as a Native rights advocate, especially regarding representations of Native American peoples in popular culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the passage of federal legislation protecting Native ancestors, burial grounds and other sacred places,” said Harjo.

Harjo, a well-known poet, writer, lecturer and policy advocate, will speak to classes and consult with members of the NAS Program Committee and the student Organization for Native American Interests, in addition to presenting a poetry reading, public lecture and luncheon colloquium on Indian sports mascots.

On April 12, a reception at 6:30 p.m. will kick-off a poetry reading by Harjo beginning at 7 p.m. in the WVU Wise Library Robinson Reading Room. On April 13, music from ONAI Singers and the West Virginia Native Women’s Hand Drum will be featured at a reception beginning at 6:30 p.m. prior to Harjo’s lecture, “Protecting and Respecting Our Ancestors and the Making of the National Museum of the American Indian,” at 7 p.m. in the Life Sciences Building Room G15. Both events are free and open to the public.

Harjo has helped Native Peoples protect sacred places and recover more than 1 million acres of land by developing laws to promote Native nations, sovereignty, children, arts, cultures and languages, including the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 1989 National Museum of the American Indian Act, 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and 1996 Executive Order on Indian Sacred Sites.

Currently, she is president of The Morning Star Institute, a national Native rights organization, and curator and general editor for the National Museum of the American Indian’s (NMAI) upcoming exhibit and publication on Treaties. She has also been a NMAI Founding Trustee; chair of NMAI’s first Program Planning Committee; principal author of the NMAI Policies on Exhibits (1994), Indian Identity (1993) and Repatriation (1991); host of the NMAI Native Writers Series, and director of the 2004-2005 NMAI/ANA Native Languages Archives Repository Project.

She is also a former executive director of the National Congress of American Indians and NCAI Fund, special assistant for Indian Legislation & Liaison in the Carter Administration, and Principal Author of the 1979 President’s Report to Congress on American Indian Religious Freedom.

Previously, she served on the Native American Policy Committee for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and as an Advisor to the Transition in 2008-2009. Additionally, she was one of seven Native people who filed the 1992 landmark case, Harjo et al v. Pro Football, Inc., against the disparaging name of the Washington football team.

Harjo was named the first Vine Deloria, Jr. Distinguished Indigenous Scholar by the University of Arizona in 2008, and awarded back-to-back residency fellowships by the School of Advanced Research in Santa Fe, where she was the 2004 Dobkin Artist Fellow for Poetry and a Summer Scholar. Many of her works have been published.

The Native American Studies Elder-in-Residence is sponsored by the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of English, the Department of History, the College of Human Resources and Education-Office of Global Initiatives and Diversity, and the Organization for Native American Interests.

For more information, contact Bonnie M. Brown, coordinator of the WVU Native American Studies Program, at (304) 293-4626 or BonnieM.Brown@mail.wvu.edu.



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