Lakota Harden (Minnecoujou/Yankton Lakota and HoChunk) is a highly-respected, award-winning organizer, community leader, and elder who has been part of Native American struggles for the past four decades.
She 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, Women of All Red Nations (WARN), Idle No More, Indigenous Women's Network, Lakota Traditional Birthing Project, and OYATE, a Native organization working to see that the lives and histories of Native peoples are portrayed honestly through books.
Lakota was the co-host, for many years, of the weekly radio program, Bay Native Circle, on Pacifica radio station KPFA in the San Francisco Bay Area. The program featured interviews, current events, and perspectives of the Native American community.
Lakota was also trained in unlearning oppression work by the Oakland-based Todos Alliance-Building Institute and the Oakland Men’s Project. In addition to keynotes and presentations, she has conducted workshops and trainings nationwide for youth and adults who work with youth, across lines of gender, race, and age to stop violence as well as workshops on unlearning racism, sexism and other social oppressions. She also offers “Decolonization” workshops for Indigenous peoples, addressing the impact of genocidal policies on individuals, families, and communities.
Growing out of Lakota’s work with youth of Alaska’s Sitka Tribe, she spent time as a counselor at Raven’s Way, an residential treatment program for Indigenous youth and later worked with Health Promotions, focusing on diabetes prevention in the community. Currently, she is the Community Outreach Coordinator of Sitka Counseling and Prevention Services, providing outreach education and intervention programs related to substance misuse and wellness for groups within the community.
Lakota is also a founder of the Herring Rock Water Protectors, an environmental group, under the guidance of the Sitka tribe, that works to protect herring and salmon from overfishing by corporate interests. In following the spirit of Standing Rock, this group focuses on the issue of herring depletion as a local embodiment of the destruction of culture and earth.
Much of Lakota’s work focuses on the healing of intergenerational historical trauma that stems out of the systematic genocide implemented by the U.S. government. The colonization of Indigenous communities has had multiple affects on those who have survived "Manifest Destiny" tactics. In healing work, she stresses, it is important to look at the spiritual, mental, as well as physical and emotional complexities of individuals. Acknowledging trauma, exploring methods and resources for healing, drawing on cultural practices and centuries old knowledge, are some of the ways to move forward.
Lakota is recipient of a Brave Hearted Woman Award presented by Mills College (Oakland CA) and a 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.
Lakota is also featured in the 2018 documentary, Warrior Women.