#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth - Joy Harjo

Oklahoma Native Joy Harjo is an influential poet, musician, and author. After she graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop from the University of Iowa, she wrote seven books of poetry, several screenplays, played saxophone, and is a Professor of English and American Indian Studies at The University of Illinois.

As a member of the Mvskoke Nation, she spends a lot of her time writing poems about her heritage by incorporating Mvskoke symbols and values in her work. Other than her heritage, her poems also embrace feminism, the arts, as well as her concern revolving around social and political issues. In all, she writes as a platform to share her life story as well as being “a voice to the indigenous people.”

Currently, Harjo is involved with political and Native American affairs within the US and uses her website to blog about her support towards certain issues. Gladeo honors Joy Harjo for National Native American Heritage Month for embracing her heritage and using it to influence her work which has gained major popularity worldwide.

“I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to all the sources that I am: to all past and future ancestors, to my home country, to all places that I touch down on and that are myself, to all voices, all women, all of my tribe, all people, all earth, and beyond that to all beginnings and endings. In a strange kind of sense [writing] frees me to believe in myself, to be able to speak, to have voice, because I have to; it is my survival.”
- Joy Harjo

By Tiffany Gonzales, Gladeo League Head Scribe