(GREAT FALLS, Mont., July 23, 2020) — Harlan McKosato (Sac and Fox Nation) was a media trailblazer. He was often referred to as the “Voice of Native America” and was a Native icon who projected a stirring national voice across Indian Country. Harlan spoke to and for, Native people behind the microphone for the internationally-syndicated Native America Calling in a way that resonated across racial, ethnic, religious, and political lines. He stimulated important conversations and raised greater awareness about our Native communities and lifeways.
With energy and brave enthusiasm, Harlan was able to highlight and describe the beauty of our cultures and contemporary identities as well as give the outside non-Indigenous world a sense of the obstacles we face, including the challenges, battles, and victories of our peoples throughout time up to the present day. The expansive network he developed through his radio journalism, freelance writing, and his many other media endeavors drew additional and much-needed attention to critical social and health issues, burgeoning tribal economies, and the immense achievements of Native individuals and Native nations.
Harlan was instrumental in helping to establish and expand the National Native American Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors and served as a founding board member. His lifelong efforts to support and promote the cultures, histories, and contemporary issues of Native peoples stand as a testament to his dedication and commitment, and to his desire to give this organization a strong presence in Indian Country.
The Board of Directors of the National Native American Hall of Fame honors Harlan for his amazing and dedicated service. We have wonderful memories of him. At the first National Native American Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona in 2018, as the honorees arrived and saw Harlan, there were joyful reunions, indicative of his extensive network across Indian Country, his sincere and energetic personality, and, indeed, of his celebrity status. Everyone knew and loved Harlan. Harlan served as our Master of Ceremonies that year. His instantly recognizable voice brought the honorees, their families, and the audience to a place where all of us were united as relatives and felt immediately at home.
We, the National Native American Hall of Fame Board of Directors, are proudly donating to the UNITY journalism scholarship fund that has been named in Harlan’s honor. The scholarship will support the educational pursuits of those following the trail he blazed throughout his life.
The Board of Directors sends heartfelt condolences to the McKosato family, and as his body is returned to Mother Earth, we wish our brother a peaceful journey. May his spirit and soul continue to live on in the words he wrote and the voice he transmitted over the radio airwaves.
In a 2017 Indian Country Today article, Harlan wrote about death and dying and Native beliefs about an afterlife, including mourning rituals and other customs surrounding death. “Death is known to many tribal peoples here on Turtle Island as the Great Mystery – because it is mysterious. We have our beliefs about what happens when we die, but most of us are not 100 percent sure. I have faith that there is an afterlife…,” he wrote. Harlan’s voice has gone silent, but as he journeys to the beautiful afterlife of his ancestors, we are and will remain forever thankful that he came our way.