A Promise Kept: 1 – Opening with Kevin Gover, Joy Harjo, and Gabrielle Tayac
Influential policy advocate, writer, curator, and 2014 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee) is recognized for a lifetime of achievement in this symposium, “A Promise Kept: The Inspiring Life and Works of Suzan Shown Harjo.” A founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian, Harjo’s legacy of activism and artistic accomplishment continues to inspire Native Nations and people and influence U.S. policies about Native sovereignty and cultures. In this segment, National Museum of the American Indian Director Kevin Gover introduces Joy Harjo, who shares a poem for the occasion. After brief comments, Gover then introduces the symposium moderator, Gabrielle Tayac. Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek) was appointed the 23rd United States poet laureate in June 2019, and is the first Native American person to be selected for the role. The recipient of numerous awards, Harjo is a poet, musician, and playwright. The author of numerous books of poetry, including She Had Some Horses, In Mad Love and War, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and most recently, American Sunrise, she has also written a memoir, Crazy Brave, and literature for children and young adults. She has taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Tennessee. A noted musician, Harjo has performed with her saxophone nationally and internationally, solo and with her band, the Arrow Dynamics. Gabrielle Tayac (Piscataway) is a Smithsonian Research Associate. An activist scholar committed to empowering Indigenous perspectives, Tayac’s scholarly research focuses on hemispheric American Indian identity, multiracialism, Indigenous religions, and social movements, maintaining a regional specialization in the Chesapeake Bay. She served on NMAI's staff for 18 years as an educator, historian, and curator. She engages deeply in community relationships and public discourse. She just returned from a two year journey to uplift the voices of Indigenous elder women leaders, sponsored by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Tayac earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Harvard University, and her B.S. in Social Work and American Indian Studies from Cornell University. The symposium was webcast and recorded in the National Museum of the American Indian Rasmuson Theater on September 20, 2019.