Suzan Shown Harjo was born on June 2, 1945. For the first 11 years of her life, Harjo grew up on a farm in an Oklahoma reservation, much aware of her Native American heritage and the obstacles faced by her people. Like so many others on the reservation, the Harjo family was poor; their modest home was without indoor plumbing and electricity. At that time, young Suzan's idea of wealth was to be able to put ice cubes in her drinks, the way they did at the drugstore in town. A citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, she was born with the spirit of a fighter, which her difficult early circumstances could not destroy. As a girl, she was determined to carry on the legacy of her great-grandfather, Chief Bull Bear, who was a leader in the Cheyenne resistance against government oppression during the latter half of the 18006. Harjo also showed early literary promise, writing poetry from the time she was a young girl. Between the ages of 12 and 16, Harjo lived with her family in Naples, Italy, where her father was stationed in the U. S. Army.