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Native American authors to speak at ASU's West campus

Winona LaDuke
September 17, 2014

Native American poet, musician and author Joy Harjo and Winona LaDuke, an internationally acclaimed author, orator and activist, will visit Arizona State University’s West campus Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 for a series of thought-provoking discussions. The public is invited to attend presentations by Harjo and LaDuke, as well as a panel discussion in which they will both participate.

Harjo’s keynote address is set for 7 p.m., Sept. 30, at at the La Sala Ballroom in the University Center Building.

The panel discussion with Harjo and LaDuke will be held at 4 p.m., Oct. 1, at the Kiva Lecture Hall in the Sands Classroom Building. The moderator is Gloria Cuadraz, an associate professor in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, the core college on the West campus. New College is sponsoring the visit by Harjo and LaDuke.

LaDuke will deliver her keynote address at 7 p.m., Oct. 2, at the La Sala Ballroom in the University Center Building.

There is no admission charge or parking fee for attendees at these events. ASU’s West campus is at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix. For more information and to R.S.V.P. for any of the three events, email

Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Her books of poetry include “How We Became Human” and “She Had Some Horses.” She has received awards including the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Harjo has released five compact discs of original music, and in 2009 won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year.

LaDuke is a member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg, who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations. She is also the executive director of the advocacy organization Honor the Earth, where she works on a national level to advocate, raise public support and create funding for frontline native environmental groups. LaDuke has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA. In 1998, Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her work with Honor the Earth.

As part of this year’s Summer Read program at ASU’s West campus, all incoming freshmen read Harjo’s memoir “Crazy Brave,” which recounts how her difficult childhood and the hardships of teen motherhood caused her to suppress her artistic gifts, and nearly brought her to her breaking point. “It was the spirit of poetry who reached out and found me as I stood there at the doorway between panic and love,” Harjo wrote in “Crazy Brave.”

The Summer Read program has proven successful in building a sense of community on the West campus and encouraging New College students, from the start of their college careers, to make connections and develop leadership skills, said Marlene Tromp, dean of New College and vice provost at the West campus. Each year a different book is selected for incoming freshmen to read.

“Participating in Summer Read exposes students to a range of intellectual perspectives that enrich the ideas they are encountering in their courses,” Tromp said. “It also makes it easier for freshmen to forge relationships with their fellow students as they discuss the ideas found in the works of our visiting authors.”

In addition to reading a book by Harjo, freshmen watched a video of a presentation titled “Seeds of Our Ancestors, Seeds of Life,” which LaDuke made at a TEDx conference. The talk centers on issues associated with genetic engineering and patenting of crops.

Freshman students then created responses to Harjo’s book and LaDuke’s TEDx talk. The responses came in a variety of written, visual and performance styles. They will be displayed during the visit to campus by Harjo and LaDuke.

Details about this and other upcoming cultural and artistic events at ASU’s West campus may be found at