Julianna Brannum (2010)


Julianna Brannum (2010)

LaDonna Harris: Indian 101 is a new biopic from Comanche filmmaker Julianna Brannum. The film chronicles the life of Comanche activist and national civil rights leader LaDonna Harris and the role that she has played in Native and mainstream American history. 

The “Indian 101” part of the film title is a reference to the course that Harris developed, at the request of President Lyndon Johnson, to help educate the people in the United States executive branch about tribal sovereignty and the unique relationship American Indian Tribes have with the federal government. The course was later picked up by the legislative branch where LaDonna’s husband Fred Harris served as a U.S. Senator from Oklahoma. “Indian 101” would be taught to members of Congress and the Senate for next four decades.

In addition to her work in educating Washington on Tribal rights, LaDonna Harris worked in other areas to advance civil and women’s rights, and to promote responsible environmental stewardship and world peace.

In 1993, Harris began the American Indian Ambassador’s program to help pass down the knowledge of current Native leaders to the next generation of Tribal, national and international Indigenous leaders. Brannum is working on a short companion piece about the ambassadors program that she hopes will be screened at colleges and universities and also have a life online.

In 2007, Brannum became a member of elite group herself, when she was selected as a Sundance Institute/Ford Foundation Fellow. Brannum has produced films for the Discovery Channel, A&E, Bravo and PBS, including The Creek Runs Red and the Wounded Knee episode of the five-part series We Shall Remain.

Written by Ben Kreimer.

Interview conducted and editing done by Ben Kreimer.

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