[VIRTUAL] Indigenous American Activism in the 21st Century

Toni Jensen’s and Thomas Lopez Jr.’s headshots on black background and the words "Indigenous American Activism in the 21st Century" on teal text box

This Instagram Live conversation will focus on historic and contemporary Indigenous activism. The conversation will feature Toni Jensen and Thomas Lopez about how protest and community efforts have contributed to the fight for Indigenous rights.

This virtual event is Part III in How Writers and Activists Can Safeguard Protest Rights, PEN America’s series of Instagram Live conversations created to raise awareness about how anti-protest proposals introduced around the country attempt to criminalize freedom of assembly and crack down on activists and the movement for racial justice. We aim to engage the literary community by mobilizing our writer allies and Members around free expression for all.


Tune into the Instagram Live on Thursday April 22, 2021 at 1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT. If you tweet about the event, be sure to tag our Twitter handle @penamerica.


Toni Jensen headshot

Toni Jensen (she/her/hers) is the author of Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land, a memoir-in-essays about gun violence, land, and Indigenous people’s lives (Ballantine Books, 2020), and a short story collection From the Hilltop. She is a 2020 recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2019 recipient of Sustainable Arts Foundation fellowship. Her essays have been published in journals such as Orion Magazine, Catapult, and Ecotone. She is an associate professor in creative writing and Indigenous studies at the University of Arkansas and also teaches in the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She received her doctorate from Texas Tech University and is the recipient of fellowship support from the Lannan Foundation, James and Elizabeth Sowell Foundation, Norcroft Foundation, UCross Foundation, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Faulkner Memorial Publishing Fund. She is Métis.

Thomas Lopez Jr. headshot

Thomas Lopez Jr. (they/them/theirs) is a graduate of Metro State University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in technical communications and Native American studies. Born and raised in Denver, CO, Lopez Jr. is Otomi, Diné, Apache, and Lakota. They are a grandchild of Chief Leonard Emmanuel Crowdog Sr., and the child of Water Woman Sharon Dominguez and Sundance Chief Thomas Lopez Sr. They spent months working with the International Indigenous Youth Council (IIYC) on the ground at Standing Rock to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and accepted the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2018. Lopez Jr. continues their work in the Indigenous and two-spirit/LGBTQ+ communities to inspire young leaders and create sustainable change. Lopez Jr. also continues working with the IIYC Rocky Mountain Chapter (IIYC 5280) and Future Coalition as an adult mentor and partnerships coordinator. They spend their free time thrift shopping, upcycling fashion, and creating fire content for the Gram and TikTok. #LandBack

Events in the Instagram Live Series

  • Part I: Is “Protest” a Bad Word? Policies Boom to Ban Protest in the 21st Century, April 8 at 1:30pm ET
  • Part II: Black Liberation and Protest: From Civil Rights to Black Trans Lives Matter, April 13 at 1pm ET
  • Part III: Indigenous American Activism in the 21st Century, April 22 at 1pm ET
  • Part IV: Writing as Protest: The Power of the Written/Spoken Word, April 29 at 1pm ET

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