Parents, museum visit stirred Harjo's passions

Suzan Shown Harjo, one of the most prominent Native activists, credits her parents and a visit to a museum with sowing the seeds of her many accomplishments.

Harjo and her mother, who was Cheyenne, visited a New York City museum in 1965 and saw a dress that had been worn by a Cheyenne girl. The dress had a bullet hole in the belly and there were signs of blood on it.

"My mother said we have to leave now," Harjo tells The Oklahoman. "As soon as we got outside, she said, 'You do something about this.''

Charged with her orders, Harjo later helped found a coalition that led to the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the executive order on sacred sites and the legislation that created the National Museum of the American Indian.

One of her latest projects is the Native American Corps. Her father, who is Creek, participated in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.

Get the Story:
Activist follows road of 'twists and turns' (The Oklahoman 6/15)

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