Joy Harjo is about to be named the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate, and she will also be the first Native American to have that particular position.
She's a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and she taught creative writing and English at U of I from 2013 to 2016. She was also connected to the American Indian Studies department.
From an interview she did with NPR:
"It's such an honoring for Native people in this country, when we've been so disappeared and disregarded," Harjo says. "And yet we're the root cultures, over 500-something tribes and I don't know how many at first contact. But it's quite an honor ... I bear that honor on behalf of the people and my ancestors. So that's really exciting for me."
You can read more about her work here.
Photo by Shawn Miller/Library of Congress via Illinois Public Media