Mika Leonard

“If we don’t tell our story, someone else will tell it for us.” Reflecting on her experiences as a Myaamia Citizen and Japanese American, Mika Leonard empowers students to create spaces of belonging where we celebrate identity and foster unity.


  • Native American Heritage
  • AAPI Heritage
  • Storyteller
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
  • Belonging


Getting to know

Mika Leonard

Mika Leonard, waapimaankoohkwa, a white loon woman, is an enrolled member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma (Myaamia). Born to a Japanese mother and Myaamia father in Oxford, Ohio, (the ancestral homelands of her own tribe), Mika has always been aware of her multicultural identity. Childhood Saturdays were spent at a Japanese Language school, while summers were spent attending public school in Japan living with her maternal family, and countless holidays and Gatherings spent with her Myaamia family.

After receiving a degree in Linguistics from Miami University of Ohio, Mika began her career working as a federal employee for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Since then, spanning nearly two decades, she has devoted the majority of her professional life to working for, with, and in support of Tribal nations.

As a Native American woman, who was gifted a happy childhood and ability to pursue her educational and professional pursuits, Mika has always had a passion for promoting Tribal sovereignty and working to support the economic independence of Tribal nations. She proudly now holds the position of Vice President of Operations at the Miami Nation Enterprises, the economic arm of her member Tribe, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

Mika lives with her family in Denver, Colorado.


To help you promote your event with Mika, CAMPUSPEAK has created promotional templates you can use. In this folder, you will find resources for social media, a promotional poster for printing, and press photos you can use for your event.
Link to Promotional Materials.


Below you will find logistical resources for the day of your event with Mika.
In-Person Event AV Needs (PDF)
Speaking Introduction (PDF)


The Modern Native American

Ever since the inception of Native American Heritage Month, many colleges and universities have made an effort to celebrate Indigenous people and better educate students on the Indigenous experience. Historical context is necessary to understand the state of Indian Country in our modern world.

A citizen of the Miami Nation, Mika Leonard, has spent the majority of her professional life working with, for, and in support of Tribal Nations. By sharing important historical events, weaving in personal stories of growing up as part of the Tribe, and working with other Nations, Mika speaks to how today’s world can better celebrate the rich culture and heritage of today’s indigenous person. In the program, Mika shares how to honor our past and bring lessons from our culture into our modern life while celebrating each of our unique heritages.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending the program, students will learn:

  •  Indian Country 101:  a brief lesson on important historical events and policies that have shaped today’s world
  • How to become an ally to Indigenous people
  • Why Native American History is American History
What if I’m not (blank) enough?

Mika Leonard grew up in a predominantly white community where she was one of few non-white presenting students in public school. As a half-Japanese (“ha-fu”) person who also held significant ties to the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Mika often struggled with not feeling fully accepted or enough. Coming from two unique backgrounds, Native American and Japanese American, she struggled to feel like she belonged.

As a Myaamia and Japanese woman, she also knows first-hand how damaging a quick judgment or stereotype can be. Her culture brought on a host of stereotypes (good and bad) that Mika had to navigate to make sense of her cultural identity.

Through this keynote, Mika will share some of her experiences of feeling ostracized (both in childhood and adulthood) and how she used those experiences to empower her feelings of uniqueness and celebrate her diversity. Additionally, she breaks down the power and impact of microaggressions while providing practical tips to become a better ally to all. Through her personal stories and cultural insights, Mika sheds light on the often-overlooked nuances of everyday interactions that can marginalize individuals and communities.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending the program, students will:

  • Learn about microaggressions
  • Understand the challenges faced by the Native American community
  • Understand the challenges faced by the AAPI community
  • How to self-advocate in a group setting
  • How to be a better ally to communities different than your own.