Suzan Shown Harjo

The Morning Star Institute
Leadership, Policy, and Communications
Scientific, Cultural, and Nonprofit Leadership

Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee) is arguably the most consistent and effective advocate for Native American rights over the last five decades.  As executive director of the National Congress of American Indians (1980s) and president of The Morning Star Institute (1984-), she has helped develop critical legislation, including the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the National Museum of the American Indian Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. A founding trustee of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, curator, poet, and columnist, Harjo has been at the center of almost every legislative, legal, and cultural issue of import to Native Peoples, including protection of cultural rights and sacred places and the return of over one million acres of Indigenous lands. Recipient of a 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, she is Editor and Guest Curator of the book (2014, Smithsonian Books) and award-winning exhibition (2014-2021, NMAI Museum on the Mall) of the same title, “Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.”

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