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Indian Times: Final Installment on a Conversation with Suzan Shown Harjo (Jan 21, 2013)

This week on Indian Times, we come to the third and final segment of our conversation with native activist Suzan Shown  Harjo.  Harjo is Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee from Oklahoma.  She is the president of the Morning Star Institute in Washington D.C.   She is also a regular columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network and wrote a summary of 2012 from the native point of view called The Hall of Shame and Fame.  This past election year, Native Americans voted in numbers never before seen…but the mainstream media took little notice.  The native vote in North Dakota tipped the scales in favor of new junior U.S. Senator Heidi Heitcamp.  Harjo talks about the difference the native vote has always made.

I next addressed the amount of negative images of native peoples this past year and this time, in of all places,  the Victoria Secrets Runway show.   Model Karlie Kloss walked onto the runway  wearing a floor-length feathered headdress, leopard-print underwear and high heels, while No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani made a video in which she portrayed the quintessential “white” Indian complete with the fierce stoic toughness found in Hollywood B westerns.  Harjo’s feelings on stereotypes are well known, she was one of the first plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Washington Redskins football team name and logo.  She discusses reasons behind the negative images and they feelings they produce.

As we came to the end of our time, I asked for a few words on the movement that is taking hold in Indian Country, Idle No More, began by four native women in Canada to protest that governments disregard of tribal sovereignty.  American Indians are showing their solidarity by staging powwow and round dance flash mobs in Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota.

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