LaDonna Harris claps at a 1970s event.
LINCOLN, NEBRASKA — Comanche producer and director Julianna Brannum and executive producer Johnny Depp (Transcendence, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Lone Ranger)–bring the story of politically influential American Indian leader LaDonna Harris to Public Television stations nationwide with broadcasts beginning November 1 in “LaDonna Harris: Indian 101.”
LaDonna Harris reshaped Indian country both in America and abroad. A Comanche from Oklahoma, she helped convince the Nixon administration to return sacred land to the Taos Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, founded the Americans for Indian Opportunity in 1970, and became a vice-presidential nominee in 1980.
LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 is a reflection of her political achievements, personal struggles, and the events that led her to becoming a voice for Native people. Raised on a farm in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, LaDonna did not attend college. However, she studied and learned alongside her husband, Fred Harris, who would become a U.S. Senator. Upon his taking office, she too undertook a public service role.
Harris is best known for her work in U.S. civil rights when she set the tone with a landmark legislation initiative that returned land to the Taos Pueblo Tribe and Native tribes of Alaska. She also served a pivotal role in helping the Menominee Tribe regain their federal recognition.
Her trailblazing efforts began when President Lyndon B. Johnson selected her to educate both the executive and legislative branches of U.S. government on the unique relationship that American Indian tribes hold within our nation. This education course was affectionately called “Indian 101” and was taught to members of Congress and other federal agencies for over 35 years.
“La Donna Harris: Indian 101” is the first documentary about the Native activist and national civil rights leader, LaDonna Harris. Brannum commented, “LaDonna’s unique and bi-partisan approach to political and social issues made her a much-loved and well-respected icon in Washington. Not only was she a major force in Indian Country, but the media loved her and high-level politicians sought her input.”
Held in the highest regard by her colleagues for countless social and historical achievements, LaDonna is now passing her knowledge on to a new generation of emerging Indigenous leaders. With participation from students worldwide, LaDonna has created an educational program that trains Native professionals to incorporate their own tribes’ traditional values and perspectives into their work while building a global Indigenous coalition.
Filmmaker Julianna Brannum
LaDonna Harris: Indian 101–which received major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Vision Maker Media–is an offering of PBS Plus. This one-hour documentary will be available to public television stations nationwide on Friday, October 31, 2014, with rights beginning November 1, 2014.
This program is suggested for scheduling for Native American Heritage Month. For viewing information in your area, please visit www.visionmakermedia.org/watch.