< return to conference archive

Legacies, Reckonings, Futures

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo digs into the deep, unresolved issues facing North American Indigenous peoples with Rick West, Founding Director of the National Museum of the American Indian & Director Emeritus, Autry Museum of the American West.


  • Joy Harjo

    In 2019, Joy Harjo was appointed the 23rd United States Poet Laureate, the first Native American to hold the position and only the second person to serve three terms in the role. Harjo’s nine books of poetry include An American Sunrise, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems, and She Had Some Horses. She is also the author of two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior, which invites us to travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. She has edited several anthologies of Native American writing including When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through — A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, and Living Nations, Living Words, the companion anthology to her signature poet laureate project. Her many writing awards include the 2019 Jackson Prize from the Poetry Society of America, the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the 2015 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Board of Directors Chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation, and holds a Tulsa Artist Fellowship. A renowned musician, Harjo performs with her saxophone nationally and internationally; her most recent album is I Pray For My Enemies. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Rick West

    W. Richard West, Jr. is the Founding Director and Director Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and President and CEO Emeritus, Ambassador, Native Community, of the Autry Museum of the American West. He is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma and a member of the Southern Cheyenne Society of Peace Chiefs. West served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Alliance of Museums (1998 – 2000) and Vice President of the International Council of Museums (2007 – 2010).