LaDonna Harris: Indian 101

In popular culture the political wife is usually portrayed as either a victim or a black widow, but this engaging documentary profile of Ladonna Vita Harris shows a woman of prodigious political and social skills making a significant contribution to policy making. Born to Comanche parents in Cotton County, Oklahoma, she married her white high school sweetheart, Fred Harris, and helped put him through college and law school; when he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1964, she accompanied him to Washington and became a formidable advocate for Native American issues. As her colleague Michael Mahsetsky explains, Harris was a master at using the traditional Washington tea party to bring together legislators, bureaucrats, tribal leaders, celebrities, and anyone else who might advance her causes; she was also, as Gloria Steinem recalls, a charismatic figure who pulled many Native American women into the feminist movement. Julianna Brannum directed.