Mentoring With a Time Horizon of Seven Generations


Suzan Shown Harjo, a Cheyenne-Creek elder, has been one of the most public faces in the campaign urging Washington’s NFL team to change its name, and for other high school, college, and pro teams across the country to do the same. Harjo’s activism has much deeper roots: She has been fighting to advance the rights of Native Americans for five decades, having worked with both President Carter and President Obama.

Over the years, Harjo has also been a mentor to Jodi Gillette, who is Lakota and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Gillette served as senior policy adviser for Native American affairs under President Obama—a position she credits Harjo with helping her reach. Before she worked in the White House, she led Native American voter-outreach efforts in North Dakota, and during her time serving under Obama, worked to increase accountability for violence against Native American women and girls, among other things.

For The Atlantic’s series on mentorship, “On the Shoulders of Giants,” I spoke with Gillette about how Harjo’s support helped her get a job in the White House, what she learned from growing up on a Native American reservation, and how Harjo has led her to see the value of radical honesty. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

B.R.J. O’Donnell: How has your understanding of mentorship been informed by Native American ideas and thought?

Jodi Gillette: I think with mentorship, one of the things is that we have to take a multigenerational, long view of this earth. We are in a society that looks at the 140-character tweet, the 10-second sound bite, and clicks. The long view is that we have seven generations before us, and seven generations after us—and that is your scope of responsibility. That’s a Native American view of how …read more

Source:: The Atlantic – Business

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