In many Southwestern matrifocal cultures, Indigenous women’s lives are modeled after female heroes and sacred women who exemplify and express courage and kinship values. Among some tribal cultures, rites of passage celebrate female creativity and the transformative nature of women, hence there was not a need for the concept of feminism. Nevertheless, Indigenous women’s lives remain invisible and stereotyped by Hollywood. This talk presents how Indigenous women have contributed in significant ways, not only to their tribal nations, but also to many aspects of contemporary American life.
Laura Tohe is Diné/Navajo. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan. A librettist and an award-winning poet, she has written 3 books of poetry, edited a book of Native American Women writing, and the oral history book, Code Talker Stories. Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio made its world premiere in 2008 and was performed by The Phoenix Symphony. She is Professor with Distinction in Indigenous Literature at Arizona State University and is the Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation for 2015-2017.