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Friday, March 9, 2012

10 Things You Need to Know About Native American Women

February 5, 2012 by
It’s no exaggeration to say that American Indian women are missing from most media coverage, history books and classroom discussions. But at least journalism students, instructors and state educators in Nebraska are doing something to help end America’s ignorance of Native women and the contributions they make to their communities, their tribes and to the nation as a whole.
Last year, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications published the magazine, Native Daughters. With a grant from the Carnegie Foundation and under the guidance of five university professors, students spent 18 months reporting and writing about American Indian women who are artists, activists, lawyers, cops, warriors, healers, storytellers and leaders.
Now the Nebraska Department of Education has also released a companion curriculum for the magazine. You can download it for free here.
Can’t wait even one minute more to learn about Native women? Here’s a teaser of what you can learn more about in Native Daughters—and what you can share with your students via the new curriculum.
1. “A lot of people think that us women are not leaders, but we are the heart of the nation, we are the center of our home, and it is us who decide how it will be.”–Philomine Lakota, Lakota language teacher, Red Cloud High School, Pine Ridge, S.D.
2. The art forms Native women practice stand as reminders of cultural endurance. “Their crafts survived the Greasy Grass (Battle of Little Big Horn), Wounded Knee One (1890) and Two (1973),” writes Christina DeVries in Native Daughters. “Their spirits survived the Trail of Tears, the Relocation and Termination program and continued struggles against cultural annihilation.”
3. In 1997, Ms. magazine named Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabeg) Woman of the Year. That same year, the activist also debuted her first novel, Last Standing Woman.
4. Of nearly 2 million women enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, 18,000 are American Indian women. Their representation in the military is disproportionately high—and Native women are more likely to be sexually harassed, which increases their chances of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.
5. The number of Native women applying to medical school has increased since 2003, peaking in 2007 when 77 Native women applied nationwide.
6. In 2007, when Cassandra Manuelito-Kerkvliet (Diné) was named president of Antioch University, she became the first American Indian woman president of a mainstream university. Not only that, but about half of the nation’s tribal colleges are led by Native women presidents.
7. Cecelia Fire Thunder (Lakota) became the Oglala Lakota Tribe’s first woman president. She has fought against domestic abuse, saying it’s not a part of traditional culture, and been a leader for women’s reproductive rights. In 2006, when the South Dakota state legislature prohibited abortion, Fire Thunder announced plans to build a women’s clinic on the reservation, and therefore beyond state jurisdiction. She was impeached by the tribal council, who said she was acting outside her duties as president.
8. Women lead nearly one-quarter of the nation’s 562 federally recognized tribes.
9. “Through the late 1700s, Cherokee women were civically engaged. They owned land and had a say during wartime,” writes Astrid Munn in Native Daughters. “But this changed after the tribe ceded large tracts of land to the U.S. government in 1795.” Since the mid-1980s, though, a generation of Native women activists, lawmakers and attorneys have been changing that history and working to empower women again.
10. Indian Country could never survive without Native women.

Photo of magazine cover. To order copies of the magazine, contact Joe Starita. You can also visit nativedaughters.org to watch video clips and extended raw footage of the interviews.


Link to Native Daughters: http://cojmc.unl.edu/nativedaughters/

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Indian Country is under attack. Native tribes and people are fighting hard for justice. There is need for legal assistance across Indian Country, and NARF is doing as much as we can. With your help, we have fought for 48 years and we continue to fight.

It is hard to understand the extent of the attacks on Indian Country. We are sending a short series of emails this month with a few examples of attacks that are happening across Indian Country and how we are standing firm for justice.

Today, we look at recent effort to undo laws put in place to protect Native American children and families. All children deserve to be raised by loving families and communities. In the 1970s, Congress realized that state agencies and courts were disproportionately removing American Indian and Alaska Native children from their families. Often these devastating removals were due to an inability or unwillingness to understand Native cultures, where family is defined broadly and raising children is a shared responsibility. To stop these destructive practices, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

After forty years, ICWA has proven to be largely successful and many states have passed their own ICWAs. This success, however, is now being challenged by large, well-financed opponents who are actively and aggressively seeking to undermine ICWA’s protections for Native children. We are seeing lawsuits across the United States that challenge ICWA’s protections. NARF is working with partners to defend the rights of Native children and families.

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To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.