Acclaimed Orator, Community Organizer, Diversity Trainer
Lakota Harden (Minnecoujou/Yankton Lakota and HoChunk) is an orator, activist, community organizer, workshop facilitator, radio host and poet. She has dedicated her life, as a daughter of seven generations of Lakota leaders, to liberation and justice.
Harden first became an accomplished speaker as a youth and representative of the early American Indian Movement's “We Will Remember” Survival School on the Pine Ridge reservation, established out of the 1973 Wounded Knee occupation. She has continued her activism over the years, working with the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), Women of All Red Nations (WARN) and the Black Hills Alliance.
Moving into unlearning oppression work in 1987, Harden began collaborating with the Oakland-based Todos Alliance-Building Institute and the Oakland Men’s Project. She conducts trainings nationwide for adults who work with youth, across lines of gender, race and age to stop violence. As part of these projects, Harden conducts workshops on unlearning racism, sexism and other social oppressions. Taking this a step further, Harden specializes in “Decolonization” workshops for Indigenous peoples, addressing the impact of genocidal policies in our homes and communities.
Harden’s recent activism spans a range of issues - she has been involved in solidarity efforts for the Idle No More movement, she was part of South Dakota’s Indigenous Women's Network (IWN): Lakota Traditional Birthing Project, focusing on women's health, traditional cultural teachings and women's empowerment. She worked with OYATE, a Native organization working to see that the lives and histories of Native peoples are portrayed honestly through books.
Harden served as Project Coordinator of Mercury Health Education with the International Indian Treaty Council, educating people, especially pregnant and nursing mothers, of the dangers to the unborn and young children posed by mercury left from abandoned gold mines. She helps organize the yearly "Indigenous People’s Day Sunrise Gathering" on Alcatraz Island, honoring those who participated in the original occupation in the late 60s, and addressing current Indigenous issues. She is a member of the American Friends Service Committee’s Third World Coalition, focusing on struggles of communities of color.
Harden has also traveled to Alaska at the request of the Sitka Tribe to work with their youth on a totem-pole project – helping modern youth revive a centuries-old traditional cultural healing project. She also regularly travels to South Dakota where she is involved in supporting and participating in efforts to keep alive the cultural and spiritual ways of life of pre-colonial traditional ceremonies.
Harden is currently a host on the weekly radio program Bay Native Circle on Pacifica radio station KPFA in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program features interviews, current events and perspectives of the Native American community.
Harden is recipient of the Brave Hearted Woman 2003 Award presented at the Mills College Brave Hearted Woman Conference and the 2004 Sisters of Fire Award presented by the Women of Color Resource Center to leading women-of-color activists and artists for their outstanding commitments to social justice.
Harden is also a facilitator of post-screening discussions of the important feature film, “Follow Me Home,” a defiant, humorous, poetic movie that explores race and identity in America while embracing Native, Latino, and African spiritual dimensions. The film stars Alfre Woodard, Benjamin Bratt, Jesse Borrego, Steve Reevis, and Calvin Levels and was written and directed by Peter Bratt. Called “a work of genius” by Alice Walker, the movie was an official selection at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Feature Film Audience Award at the 1996 San Francisco International Film Festival and the Best Director Award at the 1996 American Indian Film Festival.
"(Lakota's) words are illuminated with compassion and wisdom, steeped in history, yet thoroughly accessible to every listener. (She) has a unique ability to speak deeply to an intergenerationally, multiculturally, and socio-economically diverse audience range. Students, community, staff, and professors alike were mesmerized, moved, and transformed. " — Sara Littlecrow-Russell, J.D. Manager of Special Events, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
"Lakota's lecture was one of the most successful events sponsored by the UNT Women's Studies Program this year. Her lecture was extremely well received by our students and faculty and provoked discussion about gender and racial stereotyping throughout our campus for days afterward. Lakota was warm, engaging, thought-provoking and sensitive to her audience." — Claire L. Sahlin, Director of Women's Studies, University of North Texas, Denton TX
“Of all the speakers I have brought to the Storrs campus, Lakota Harden was without a doubt one of the finest. Our students, staff and faculty benefited tremendously from her visit. She was professional, honest, humorous, skillful, and most of all, respectful in helping each of us who attended further understand ourselves and each other.” — Barbara Gurr, Assistant Director of Women’s Studies, University of Connecticut, Storrs CT
"I never have experienced such a transformational program (the film "Follow Me Home" facilitated by Lakota Harden), an experience that truly touched me to the core. This is truly what it is all about; sharing, respecting, honoring, and celebrating our similarities and our differences.” — Jacob Peltier, Associated Student Government, Bellevue Community College, Bellevue WA