|LaDonna Harris is a remarkable statesman
and national leader who has enriched the lives of thousands. She has
devoted her life to building coalitions that create change. She has
been a consistent and ardent advocate on behalf of Tribal America.
In addition, she continues her activism in the area of civil rights,
environmental protection, the women’s movement and world peace.
She was instrumental in the return of the Tao’s Blue Lake
to the people of Taos Pueblo and to the Menominee Tribe in regaining
their federal recognition. Her guiding influence on both pieces
of legislation led to landmark laws that set a precedent that still
guides Indian policy today.
For more than 3 decades. Harris has been a strong voice for Native
American rights. In the 1960’s she founded Oklahomans for
Indian Opportunity to find ways to reverse the stifling socio-economic
conditions that impact Indian communities. Today, this organization
remains vital, serving the tribes of Oklahoma. From the 1970’s
to the present, she has presided over Americans fort Indian Opportunity.
A catalyst for new concepts and opportunities for Indian peoples,
this national organization works to enhance the cultural, social,
political and economic self-sufficiency of tribes. Harris also founded
some of today’s leading national Indian organizations including
the National Indian Housing Council, Council of Energy Resource
Tribes, Nation Tribal Environmental Council, and National Indian
Harris applies much of her energy to reinforcing and strengthening
tribal governments. She has encouraged tribes to reweave traditional
value based methods of consensus building into their governance
systems. She has worked directly with the Winnebago, Poarch Band
Creek, Oklahoma Apache, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Comanche, Pawnee, and
Menominee tribes in assessing how those tribes can reincorporate
traditional dispute resolution methodologies into contemporary systems
of government. “Tribal Issues Management System,” the
process used to facilitate dialogue, was developed by Harris and
has been used to facilitate resolution throughout the county an
in two international forums. Harris believes that as cultural groups
throughout the world struggle for autonomy and as tribal and ethnic
strife become the focus of unrest on nearly every continent, Tribal
America has a unique opportunity to make a positive contribution
to our global society.
Harris has spent many years training the executive branch of the
federal government regarding tribes’ unique role in the U.S.
Federal system. She has held hundreds of forums on the issues surrounding
the intergovernmental interaction between tribes and federal agencies.
She has published significant papers, including, To Govern or Be
Governed: Indian Tribes at a Crossroads, Partnerships for the Protection
of Tribal Environments, Indian Business Opportunities and the Defense
Sector, Alternatives for Agriculture; Successful Tribal Farms, Hard
Choices: development of Non-Energy Non-Replenishable Resources,
and Tribal Governments in the U.S. Federal System. In the 1980’s
Harris was instrumental in the adoption of official Indian policies
by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy,
and the Department of Agriculture.
In helping tribes plan for the future, Harris recognizes the significance
of the Information Age and the impact computer technology will have
on tribal communities. She has created the first Indian owned and
operated computer telecommunications network Indian.net.indian.com
is dedicated to establishing and developing free public access to
electronic information and communication services for Native Americans.
Harris wants Indians to enter the information revolution as equal
partners by ensuring that Indian people avoid electronic colonialism.
Earlier this decade, Vice President Gore recognized Harris as a
leader in the area of telecommunications in his remarks at the White
House Tribal Summit and then Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown appointed
her to the Advisory Council on the National Information Infrastructure.
Presently, Harris directs a very successful national Indian Leadership
training initiative entitled the American Indian Ambassadors Program.
Based on her past work with tribal governments and using traditional
tribal values and perspectives as a foundation, this special Program
is designed to empower a new generation of Native American leaders
to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. This project is a fitting
legacy to Harris’ devotion to strengthening tribal governments
and gives Tribal America a new cadre of leaders blessed by her spirit.
As a national leader, Harris has influenced the agendas of the
civil rights, feminist, environmental and world peace movements.
She was a founding member of Common Cause and the National Urban
Coalition and is an ardent spokes person against poverty and social
injustice. As an advocate for women’s rights, she was a founder
of the National Women’s Political Causes. In 1980, as the
Vice Presidential nominee on the Citizens Party ticket with Barry
Commoner, Harris firmly added environmental issues to that and future
presidential campaigns. Her influence now reaches to the international
community to promote peace as well. She was an original member of
Global Tomorrow Coalition, the U.S. Representative to the OAS Inter-American
In addition, she was appointed to the following Presidential Commisissions’
National Council on Indian Opportunity (Johnson); White House Fellows
Commission (Nixon): U.S. commission on the Observance of International
Women’s Year (Ford); Commission on Mental Health (Carter);
and she represented the United States on the United Nations Education,
Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) (Carter).
Wife of US Senator, Fred Harris. First Senator’s wife to testify
before a Congressional committee. Her partnership with Senator Harris
made her a strong force in Congress where she was the first Senator’s
wife to testify before a Congressional committee.
Civil rights, environmental protection, the women’s movement
and world peace Advocate on behalf of Tribal America
Boards (currently serving)
Native American Public Telecommunications; the National Senior Citizens
Law Center; Think New Mexico; Shakespeare in Santa Fe, and Women
for Meaningful Summits.
Girl Scouts USA; Independent Sector; Council on Foundations; National
Organization of Women; National Urban League; Save the Children
Federation, the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing,
and the Overseas Development orporation.
The National Museum of the American Indian; American Indian Ritual
Objects Repatriation Foundation,
National Institute for Women of Color; Pax World Foundation; and
the Delphi International Group.