Listening to the Voices of Native Women

At the University of Kansas, professor and Native scholar Sarah Deer, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, held her presentation Sovereignty of the Soul: Centering the Voices of Native Women. Deer voiced her findings and research in her presentation on various topics concerning Native rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. This presentation was not limited to these topics but framed the flow of the conversation Deer was having with her audience. Before initiating her presentation, Deer made it clear that her work and understandings of these topics are coming from her perspective. She told the audience that not all Native people think the same way and she could not speak for all Native people.

The content that was relayed during this presentation weaved together multiple topics. An issue that takes center stage is that Native people, especially Native women, are not given the seat at the table to voice their concerns. Deer elaborated more with examples throughout our history. She described how Native peoples are seen as merely as individuals, that our earlier forms of Native existence had magically disappeared. She believes in the importance of celebrating the accomplishments of the many women throughout history who have been overlooked by the focus of men. Deer also talked about the issues she witnessed firsthand with her clients when she was practicing law. Most of her clients were Native women who had encountered rape or other forms of sexual violence. She communicated the devastating trauma, underrepresentation, and violence that she witnessed with her clients.

Through her presentation, Deer made the case to her audience that Native voices need to be prioritized if we, as a society, are to address the complex issues that Native people face today

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