Closing Keynote Speaker: Sarah Eagle Heart

Sunday, November 19th from 11 a.m. -12 p.m. CT

ACTFL 2023 web

Sarah Eagle Heart

Emmy Award Winning Storyteller

  • When: Sunday, November 19th from 11 a.m. -12 p.m. CT
  • Location: Skyline Ballroom in the McCormick Place West


The Importance of Language in Transforming Hearts: Native American Storytelling Traditions.


If you could only use one word to describe Sarah Eagle Heart, it would be storyteller. It is foundational to everything she does, including her fight for social justice and as an advocate for Indigenous People.

Sarah is a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation and grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where she learned Native American storytelling traditions. She uses her storytelling skills as a public speaker, writer, and filmmaker—sharing her traditional cultural knowledge to raise awareness and build strong networks, as well as fight for social justice. In 2019, she won an Emmy Award as a Consultant Producer for her work on Crow: the Legend. Inspired by the Native American legend, the animated short is an interactive tale of community and sacrifice exploring themes of self-discovery and selflessness.

Sarah is an internationally accomplished executive with a diverse background in tribal, corporate, and non-profit organizations focusing on communications, marketing, program development, fundraising, and advocacy with a unique vantage point to amplify impact. She is also an entrepreneur and philanthropic leader. In 2022, Sarah co-founded Zuyá Entertainment to share stories of her Lakota culture and worldview.

She is co-founder and senior advisor for Return to the Heart Foundation, an Indigenous women-led organization focused on resourcing innovative Indigenous women-led initiatives in the ecosystems of narrative change, healing, climate justice, civic engagement, and restorative and regenerative development. Her narrative change included civic engagement with Sisters Rising working with We Stand United and Justice for Migrant Women, as well as supporting traditional helpers and healers. Their organization has worked with actors and musicians like Anne Hathaway, Brooke Simpson, Mac DeMarco, Marisa Tomei, Mumu Fresh, Taboo, Tonia Jo Hall, Orville Pec, Piper Perabo and Portugal. The Man. She also co-founded the Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition.

As a storyteller, Sarah enjoys utilizing innovative approaches and partnerships to amplify stories from grassroots communities, artists and movement leaders. In addition to Crow, Sarah has also produced PSA GOTV campaigns with StandNVote with Ruffalo and Sisters Rising with Hathaway and Tomei. She is currently executive producing a docuseries, producing a horror film and writing a drama film script. Her latest film, Lakota Nation vs. The United States, recently premiered at the Tribeca Festival in New York. She is executive producer, along with Ruffalo. It is scheduled to stream this fall to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in October and Native American Heritage Month in November.

Sarah holds a B.A. in Mass Communications (print and multimedia emphasis) and B.S. in American Indian Studies from Black Hills State University. She also holds an M.B.A. (global management emphasis) from University of Phoenix. She currently volunteers on the boards of Women’s March, PRISM and We Stand United.