Indigenous Women: Nations, Cultures, Voices

The Blog offers information about Indigenous women spanning topics from current events in Indian Country to book reviews to discussion of Indigenous women’s cultural histories and ritual cycles relating to the Earth. Above all, there are the voices of Indigenous women as they present themselves.

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Native American Women's Organizations


b2ap3_thumbnail_IWN_0.jpgWhen the European immigrants arrived on the shores of the Indigenous peoples’ lands five hundred years ago, the Native people quickly realized that women from Europe at that time had little socioeconomic power. During the process of colonization, the European immigrants slowly began to erode Indigenous women’s rights in their own nations. Importantly, the newly-minted United States leaders did not want EuroAmerican and free African-American women to have the rights and social power that Native American women had. To cope with this gendered attack, Native women strategically created ways of continuing their seats of sociopolitical power in their nations.

 One way Native American women along the U.S. east coast secretly continued their governing councils (during the 1800s and into the last century) without threatening the new immigrant invaders is by simply re-naming the women’s council to something that sounded conforming and harmless. For example, the Mohegan women’s council (in present-day Connecticut) renamed their women’s council the “Church Ladies Sewing Society” to look as non-threatening as possible.  At these meetings, however, the Mohegan women continued the same governing business they had always done. However, to outsiders, it looked like the Native women had thrown away their culture and conformed to EuroAmerican values.


b2ap3_thumbnail_MakiawisugFidelia.jpgFidelia Fielding (1827--1908) Respected Mohegan Elder


Today, Indigenous women continue to play a central role in shaping and guiding the socioeconomic, political, and cultural agendas of their nations. In the first months of 2015, I will be introducing blog readers to outstanding contemporary Native American women who are making a difference in their communities. I am beginning this segment with a few Native women’s international organizations that have made a national impact.

Indigenous women’s collectives assert the importance of Indigenous sovereignty—the right Native peoples have to govern themselves, manage their lands, chronicle their own histories, and protect their cultures. My hope from this very limited list of organizations below is that readers will see the extraordinary community-building across national and cultural lines that Indigenous women have created—from their prayers and visions to international action!


National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center (

The NIWRC is a non-profit organization created and led by Native American women to address violence against Native women. Their webpage states: “Our Board consists of Native women from throughout the United States with extensive experience and commitment to providing technical assistance/training and resource information regarding violence committed against Native women and their children. The NIWRC is dedicated to reclaiming the sovereignty of Native nations.” The NIWRC publishes an online newsletter and a print magazine, maintains a speaker’s bureau, and is hosting a Women are Sacred conference in June of this year.

Women of All Red Nations

This Indigenous women-founded organization, created during the Red Power movement in the 1970s, brought to public awareness shocking human rights violations against Native women in the U.S. The founders reported their findings in academic journals, Indigenous news sources, and in feminist journals like Off Our Backs. WARN held a conference at the University of Connecticut over a decade ago where an international gathering of Native women scholars, poets, and activists gathered to strategize, raise awareness, and build community.


Indigenous Women’s Network


IWN was founded by Native women activists in 1985. Their website states: “IWN has evolved into an international coalition of Indigenous women from rural and urban communities who approach the resolution of contemporary challenges from a traditional Indigenous values base. IWN serves as a major driving force behind Indigenous communities, mobilizing change around issues affecting ourselves and our families, Mother Earth and the environment, cultural/spiritual beliefs and traditions, health services and tribal governance.”


INCITE! Women of Color (

This organization is not strictly for Native American women, but strongly focuses on issues and news important to Native women and Two-Spirited (LGBTQI) Indigenous peoples. INCITE! is an organization that has grassroots chapters all over the United States, and they strongly welcome getting involved.


What these Indigenous women’s organizations demonstrate is the uninterrupted efforts of Native American women to keep their nations together, their cultures thriving, and their people strong.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Wise-Women-Gathering-Place.jpgWise Women Gathering Place


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Dr. Mays is a professional writer with a doctoral degree in Native American Studies who has taught at the college level for nearly two decades. She is committed to educating about Indigenous cultures, especially about practices that specifically relate to women, in order to raise awareness about current issues in Indian Country, dissolve stereotypes, and create healing among all communities.


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