"A Day With Joy Harjo" Inspires and Connects Native American Students Across Oklahoma

Decorative Image:  Flyer advertising "A Day with Joy harjo"

"A Day With Joy Harjo" Inspires and Connects Native American Students Across Oklahoma

(Mustang, Oklahoma – August 29, 2023) – On a bright and promising day, students from across the State of Oklahoma came together for a truly exceptional event, "A Day With Joy Harjo." Spearheaded by Mustang Indian Education under the visionary leadership of Katy Patterson, this event was a celebration of culture, heritage, and the power of education. The event was hosted for students in Mustang and across Oklahoma who are served by Native American Service.

Joy Harjo speaks from a podium in the Mustang PAC

The event took place at the Mustang Performing Arts Center in Mustang on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, with over 300 students participating. "A Day With Joy Harjo" was dedicated to honoring the rich tapestry of Native American culture and inspiring students to embrace their unique identities while reaching for their educational and personal dreams. This event was a true testament to the commitment of Mustang Indian Education to empower the next generation of leaders within the Native American community.

Renowned poet, musician, and writer Joy Harjo graced the event with her presence as the keynote speaker. Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, is the first Native American United States Poet Laureate, and her work has touched the hearts and minds of countless individuals. Her words resonated deeply with the students, fostering a sense of pride in their heritage and encouraging them to embrace the transformative power of education, writing, and the arts.

Katy Patterson, the driving force behind Mustang Indian Education, expressed her enthusiasm about the event, saying, "Our mission is to provide a platform where Native American students can celebrate their identity, connect with their cultural heritage, and be inspired to pursue their dreams. 'A Day With Joy Harjo' embodied these ideals and served as a reminder that every student has the potential to make a significant impact on their communities."

Wide shot of Mustang PAC with Joy Harjo at the podium speaking to students

Throughout the day, students participated in an interactive discussion with Harjo about her journey and embraced a positive message of empowerment.  The event also featured discussions on topics related to cultural preservation, self-empowerment, and the importance of education, writing, and the arts. Students also had the opportunity to connect with their peers from different parts of the state, forging friendships and building a stronger sense of community.

"Today has been a truly transformative experience," remarked one of the students in attendance. "Listening to Joy Harjo's words and being surrounded by other students who share similar backgrounds has made me realize the strength of our community and the potential we hold."

Decorative Image:  Flyer advertising "A Day with Joy harjo"

About Joy Harjo

Joy Har­jo, the 23rd Poet Lau­re­ate of the Unit­ed States, is a mem­ber of the Mvskoke Nation. She is only the sec­ond poet to be appoint­ed a third term as U.S. Poet Laureate.  Born in Tul­sa, Okla­homa, she left home to attend high school at the inno­v­a­tive Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an Arts, which was then a Bureau of Indi­an Affairs school. Har­jo began writ­ing poet­ry as a mem­ber of the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mexico’s Native stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion, the Kiva Club, in response to Native empow­er­ment move­ments. She went on to earn her MFA at the Iowa Writ­ers’ Work­shop and teach Eng­lish, Cre­ative Writ­ing, and Amer­i­can Indi­an Stud­ies at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­­for­­nia-Los Ange­les, Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mex­i­co, Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona, Ari­zona State, Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, Uni­ver­si­ty of Col­orado, Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i, Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an Arts, and Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee, while per­form­ing music and poet­ry nation­al­ly and internationally. For more information, visit https://www.joyharjo.com/about

About Mustang Public Schools

The Mustang Public School District covers over 72 square miles in Oklahoma and Canadian counties, with the City of Mustang at its center. The district is the largest employer in Canadian County, with more than 1,800 certified and support employees, and serves over 13,500 students. As one of Oklahoma’s Top Workplaces, the school district offers a comprehensive compensation package for full-time employees, in addition to a satisfying working environment. There are eight (soon to be 9) elementary schools (grades PreK-4), three intermediate centers (grades 5-6), three middle schools (grades 7-8), one high school (grades 9-12), and an educational center which houses pre-kindergarten and alternative education.

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