A Reason to be Hopeful: Lessons from Suzan Harjo

Suzan Harjo
Suzan Harjo

Leading Native American rights activist Suzan Harjo was at Mitchell Hamline Law School earlier this week to talk about the future of Indian Law under a Trump administration.

She spent most of her time talking about the Reagan and Bush years.Her message was, even thought those were difficult times, too, advocates were still able to get major legislative wins.

The Reagan years were particularly bad for Indian people, with Reagan trying to cut the federal Indian budget by a third, and privatize the Indian Trust money, she said. Regardless, advocates were able to get passage of theĀ National Museum for the Native American Act (1989) and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) (both signed by President Bush.)

Connecting the dots to today’s situation and worries about the Trump administration, she offered the following advice: “In addition to a combative strategy, have some positive goals,” she said. “You never know how powerful you are until you exercise your power.” Continue reading