An Indigineous woman with dark hair is wearing a blue and pink Cherokee tear dress.

Elisa Harkins

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Elisa Harkins received the Creative Capital Award in 2024. Elisa Harkins (b.1978, Cherokee, Muscogee) is an artist, singer, electronic music composer, and curator. Her work is concerned with translation, language preservation, and Indigenous musicology. Harkins uses the Cherokee and Mvskoke languages, electronic music, sculpture, and the body as her tools. She is the first person to use the Cherokee language in a pop song. Harkins received a BA from Columbia College, Chicago, and an MFA from CalArts. She has since continued her education at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has exhibited her work at Crystal Bridges, documenta 14, The Hammer Museum, The Heard Museum, and MoMA. In 2020, she created the Indigenous concert series 6 Moons and published a CD of Muscogee/Seminole Hymns. She is also the DJ of Mvhayv Radio, an Indigenous radio show on 99.1FM in Indianapolis, IN, and streaming from OK#1 in Tulsa, OK. Radio III / ᎦᏬᏂᏍᎩ ᏦᎢ is a dance performance that features music and choreography by Harkins. With support from PICA and Western Front, songs from the performance have been collected into a double LP, which can be found on Harkins’ Bandcamp. Harkins resides on the Muscogee Reservation and is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Nation.

Ekvnv (Land), The Sacred Mother From Which We Came

Elisa Harkins (b.1978, Cherokee, Muscogee) is an artist, singer, electronic music composer, and curator.

Artist Bio

This documentary film delves into an investigation by The Muscogee (Creek) Nation on the Indigenous ancestors and artifacts unearthed from Angel Mounds in Evansville, Indiana. The film follows the Nation’s journey to uncover the truth about the origins of the artifacts found at the site, which bear a striking resemblance to those in the Southeast. During Harkins’ visit to Angel Mounds in 2022, she observed that the artifacts there bore a resemblance to those in the Southeast. Following her visit, Angel Mounds updated its website to state that Mississippian people once inhabited the area. However, The Muscogee Nation has since refuted this claim, stating that there is no evidence to support the presence of Mississippian people in Indiana. The implications of this investigation are significant, as the Muscogee Nation may be entitled to reclaim over 1 million artifacts and 700 ancestors associated with the site if their findings are proven true. This could potentially change the way we view Indigenous history as a nation. Through interviews with experts and members of the Muscogee Nation, this documentary aims to shed light on this important and complex issue.

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Award Year

In Progress