"It's such an honoring for Native people in this country, when we've been so disappeared and disregarded," Harjo told NPR. "And yet we're the root cultures, over 500-something tribes, and I don't know how many at first contact. But it's quite an honor ... I bear that honor on behalf of the people and my ancestors. So that's really exciting for me."
Harjo, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has authored eight books of poetry, including the American Book Award-winning “In Mad Love and War.” She has also written a memoir and youth literature. She taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Tennessee.