Ladonna Harris: A Comanche Life

Ladonna Harris: A Comanche Life

Ladonna Harris: A Comanche Life

Ladonna Harris: A Comanche Life


This book is the unforgettable story of a Comanche woman who has become one of the most influential, inspired, and determined Native Americans in politics. LaDonna Harris was born on a Comanche allotment in southern Oklahoma in the 1930s. From her earliest years, she was immersed in a world of resistance, reform, and political action. As the wife of Senator Fred R. Harris, LaDonna was actively involved in political advising, campaigning, and networking.

Not content to remain in the background, LaDonna became a well-known political figure in her own right, serving on the National Indian Opportunities Council as President Lyndon B. Johnson's appointee and working beside such notable political figures as Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, and Sargent Shriver. In 1980 she became the vice-presidential nominee for the environmentalist Citizen's Party. Her story provides a witty and valuable American Indian insider's view of modern national political scenes.


In late 1996 I approached LaDonna Harris to discuss my idea of writing a book about her. She agreed, not hesitating for a moment, and we were suddenly under way.

Friends for years, we lived only a few miles apart in New Mexico, and our mutual interests brought us together frequently. We both participated in New Mexico’s Indian activities, she on one level and I on another. As a cofounder of the Albuquerque Indian Center, I was often invited to civic events, art gallery openings, and other ceremonies honoring Native Americans that LaDonna also attended, and we’d visit and laugh and catch each other up on our comings and goings. Then, too, there was always the neighborhood grocery store that brought us together.

These brief get-togethers built our friendship slowly and steadily. LaDonna knew me as a writer and western historian, with published books about Geronimo’s people—the Chiricahua Apaches—and articles on the American West and Southwest. When I worked for the University . . .

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