Native American Activism on the airwaves with the Seeing Red Radio Archive
by Julie Fiveash
The Archives at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, NM is home to the “Seeing Red Radio Archive,” a collection of 89, 1/4” reel-to-reel audio recordings and 91 digital surrogates of the radio program hosted by Suzan Shown Harjo and Frank Harjo from 1972 to 1977. Recorded at WBAI-New York, Seeing Red “was the first nationally syndicated radio program focused on contemporary Native American issues.” (1) Seeing Red featured news segments, music, lectures, and interviews with Native American artists, activists, and leaders.
This archive is a powerful educational tool, as an in depth look at Native American activism within the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the occupation of Alcatraz through interviews with those participating in those events, this radio program “can supplement existing colonial historical narratives with alternative narratives.”(2) Teachers and educators looking for materials to give context to these events can look through this archive and find segments such as “Seeing Red - Student Views,” a episode that interviewed Indigenous students attending high school and elementary school and what they thought about their treatment in school and how their education addressed Native American history. These snapshots of Indigenous life and activism in the 1970s can help facilitate discussions on how these issues are still being dealt with today in Indigenous communities around the world.
The Seeing Red Radio Archive is a part of the Suzan Shown Harjo Papers, donated to the IAIA archives in 2017. Susan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muskogee) is a Native American rights advocate as well as a poet, writer, lecturer, curator, and policy advocate. Harjo has served as the Congressional liaison on Indian Affairs under the Carter Administration and was the President of the National Council of American Indians. She is one of the leading voices in the work to abolish harmful stereotypes of Native Americans within sports mascots and was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
For more information, contact the Institute of American Indian Arts Archives: https://iaia.edu/academics/library/archives/
(2) Seeing Red Radio Archive, Suzan Shown Harjo Papers. IAIA Archives, Santa Fe, New Mexico.