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Laura Harjo

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Laura Harjo

Associate Professor 

Copeland Hall, room 207


AA, Liberal Arts, Natural Resources Concentration, Haskell Indian Nations University, 1991

BS, Geography, Track: GIS, Minor: Planning, 1994

Graduate Certificate, Geographic Information Science, University of Southern California, 2001

PhD, Geography, University of Southern California, 2012

Personal Statement

Laura Harjo is a Mvskoke scholar and an associate professor teaching Indigenous Planning, Community Development, and Indigenous Feminisms.  She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Southern California in geography, while also tracking through the American Studies and Ethnicity doctoral program, and her scholarly inquiry is at the intersection of geography and critical ethnic studies with “community” as an analytic focus. Harjo’s research and teaching centers on three areas: imbuing complexity to Indigenous space, and place; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives and anti-violence; and community-based knowledge production. She is the author of Spiral to the Stars: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity (University of Arizona Press, 2019), which employs Mvskoke epistemologies, and Indigenous feminisms to grapple with a community praxis of futurity.   Prior to joining OU, she taught at the University of New Mexico for eight years in Community and Regional Planning where she participated in foundation building work for the Indigenous Design and Planning Institute and the Indigenous Planning concentration. She has served as a civil rights research fellow with the Advancement Project in Washington, DC. There she worked in an attorney/researcher partnership with civil rights expert Donita Judge, Esq. and researched and spatially analyzed civil rights issues in Florida, Texas, and New Orleans related to voter protection, inclusive community development, and the prison industrial complex-school to prison pipeline.  She currently serves on the board of directors for the Indian Land Tenure Foundation.

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Indigenous Planning and Development, Indigenous Feminisms, Community Based Knowledge Production, Community Participatory Methodologies, Spatial Storytelling

Honors and Recognition

  • 2020-Present. Vice Chair, Indian Land Tenure Foundation Board of Directors
  • 2020-Present. FWIG Marsha Ritzdorf Award Committee, ACSP
  • 2020-Present. Editorial Board, Local Development and Society Journal
  • 2020-Present. Advisory Board, West Virginia Press, Borderless Book Series
  • 2020-Present. National Advisory Board, Imagining America
  • 2019-2020. Dean’s Search Committee, School of Architecture and Planning, UNM, Albuquerque NM
  • 2018-2020. Conference Steering Committee, Imagining America Conference, Albuquerque NM
  • 2018-Present. Board Member, Feminist Research Institute Board, UNM, Albuquerque NM
  • 2011-Present. Board Member, Indian Land Tenure Foundation.
  • 2013-2017 National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), Technology Task Force, Washington DC.
  • 2014-2017. Advisor, Data Center, Oakland CA
  • 2015. Member, Conference Organizing Committee, Photo Paysage/Landscape Representation, UNM, Albuquerque, NM
  • 2014-Present. Advisory Board Member, OurMaps Project, Research Action Design.
  • 2012. Nation Urban Indian Family Coalition Los Angeles Policy Agenda Planning Committee, American Indian Community Coalition Representative.
  • 2005-2011. Co-Founder/Board Member, Indigenous Mapping Network.
  • 2004-2006. Region III Representative, American Planning Association, Indigenous Planning Division.
  • 2003-2005. Conference Coordinator, Intertribal GIS/Indigenous Mapping Conference.
  • 1999-2005. Cherokee Nation Tribal Liaison to the Census.

Selected Research and Creative Activity

  • Harjo, Laura, (2019) Spiral to the Stars: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity, University of Arizona Press
  • 2015-2016. Co-Organizer, American Studies research cluster on “Critical Indigenous Studies and Extractive Capitalism, UNM, College of Arts and Sciences ($2,500) 
  • 2015. Co-Principal Investigator, Study Abroad Allocations Committee, Indigenous Town Planning Ecuador, August 23, 2014, ($11,500) 
  • 2013-2015. Co-Principal Investigator, Taos Pueblo Comprehensive Indigenous Community & Land Use Plan, Taos Pueblo, NM ($44,973) 
  • 2013. Principal Investigator, Indian Land Tenure Foundation, “Graduate Intern, Navajo Land Tenure Research”, June 2013, ($30,000) 
  • 2004. Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Special Trustee, Geographic Coordinate Database, Pilot Project, September 2004, ($200,000) 
  • 2000. Principal Investigator, Arkansas Riverbed Authority, Mapping and Analysis of Tribal Land Holdings: The historic river and present day river. ($12,000) 
  • 2001. Choctaw Nation, Mapping Tribal Land: Training in using GIS coordinate geometry (COGO), and proprietary Cherokee Nation Land Information System. ($10,000)
  • Dorries, Heather, and Harjo, Laura, (2020 )“Beyond Policing: Confronting Colonial Violence Through Indigenous Feminist Theorizing”, Focus Issue Topic: Planning, Prisons and Policing, Journal of Planning Education and Research 
  • Harjo, Laura L., Robertson, Kimberly, and Navarro, Jenell, (2018) “Leading with Our Hearts: Anti-Violence Work, Community Action, and Beading as Colonial Resistance” in Campbell, Maria, Anderson, Kim, and Belcourt, Christi (eds.) Keetsahnak, Our Sisters. 
  • Forbes-Isais, G., & Harjo, Laura L., (2015) “Social Equity and Ethics for Sustainable Architecture” (eds.) Kanaani, M,and Kopec, D. The Routledge Handbook for Architecture Design & Practice: Established and Emerging Trends, New York: Routledge 
  • Harjo, Laura L., (2015) Review of “Who Is Indian” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Vol. 38:4 
  • Harjo, Laura L., (2008) Review of “Place and Native American Indian History and Culture.” American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Vol. 32:4. 
  • Harjo, Laura L., (2006) “GIS support for empowering the marginalized community: the Cherokee Nation case study.” in Campagna, M. (ed.) GIS for Sustainable Development, New York: Taylor and Francis, 433-449.
  • Chaco Canyon Cultural Assets Report, Indigenous Design and Planning Institute, 2015 
  • Taos Pueblo Comprehensive Indigenous Community & Land Use Plan, Indigenous Design and Planning Institute, 2014 
  • The Rio Arriba Indo-Hispano Homeland: A Living Cultural Corridors Plan, Indo-Hispano Summer Field School, 2013. 
  • Nambe Pueblo, Community Report, Indigenous Town Planning Studio, 2014
  • 2015. Curator, Art Exhibit, Instapache: Art as Social Practice, Douglas Miles, UNM Rainosek Gallery
  • 2020. Speaker, Planning During and After the COVID 19 Pandemic, ACSP Committee on the Academy.
  • 2020. Speaker, Future of NAS and Indigenous Studies Roundtable, 50th Anniversary Celebration of Native American Studies.
  • 2019. Speaker, “Spiral to the Stars Book: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity Book Talk,” Yale Group for the Study of Native America, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
  • 2019. Speaker, Indigenous Knowledges Conference, Land as Pedagogy Panel, University of New Mexico
  • 2019. Speaker, “Constellating With Kin and Urban Futurity: Asking the Right Questions,” Storytelling, Visions, and Imaginaries of Futurity, American Collegiate Schools of Planning, Greenville SC
  • 2019. Speaker, Roundtable on the Future of Community Development, American Collegiate Schools of Planning, Greenville SC
  • 2019. Speaker, Intervening in Spatial Imaginaries and Spaces of Belonging Symposium, (Re) Imagining the Mvskoke Etvlwa (tribal town): Emergence Geographies, University of New Mexico
  • 2019. Speaker, “Indigenous Feminist Planning in (De)carceral and Affective Worldmaking,“ Critical Policing Research in Action Workshop, University of New South Wales, Sydney, AU
  • 2019. Co-presenter, “Beadwork as Ceremony: Activating Our Resilience, Restoration, and Resistance,” He Au Honua: Indigenous Research Conference, Maui, HI
  • 2019. Lead Presenter, “Spiral to the Stars: Mvskoke Tools of Futurity Book Release”, He Au Honua: Indigenous Research Conference, Maui, HI
  • 2018. Speaker, Panel, “MMIW and Indigenous Feminist Planning Praxis”
  • 2018. Speaker, Roundtable, Public Monuments, Memorials, and Memorialization, American Collegiate Schools of Planning, Buffalo NY 
  • 2018, Speaker, The Future is Cut and Pasted: Zine-Making as a Native Feminist Practice, Native American and Indigenous Studies Conference, Los Angeles, CA 2017, Speaker

Previous Administrative Work

  • 1999-2005. GIS Administrator, GeoData Center, Cherokee Nation 2007-2009. Research Associate, Civic & Community Relations, University of Southern California