When I said that we at Indian Country Today have a glorious gallery of Native American writers and thinkers — a great many of them immensely imaginative and seriously wise indigenous women—I was not exaggerating.
Continuing to act on the wise advice of my loving mother, a wonderful indigenous woman herself, I am again following her edicts: “Never sit on your lips when you should open your mouth,” and “Now shut up and let the women talk.” In this spirit we bring you Part II of our series on Native American women at ICTMN.
1. Chelsey Luger, Lakota and Ojibwe
Chelsey Luger, Lakota and Ojibwe [Turtle Mountain & Standing Rock nations], is currently based in North Dakota and Arizona. Luger writes primarily about health and wellness, but also covers breaking news stories, arts, environment and more. She is a co-founder and content editor of the grassroots indigenous wellness initiative Well For Culture. For positive vibes and updates on her frequent travels, you can follow her on Instagram @chelswhoelse or Twitter @cpluger.
“The voices of Native women have been largely ignored or undermined in mainstream media for far too long, but I’m happy to see that many of us are making efforts to shift that dynamic,” Luger said. “It is in the best interests of the news industry and of the world to pay greater attention to formerly or currently marginalized voices and to learn from them. Keep in mind that ‘Native women’ is as diverse a category as any other group of people. As individuals, we bring unique and vital perspectives to the table with powerful means of approaching stories and interpreting current events.”
2. Sarah Sunshine Manning, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes
“In many tribal societies, perspectives of women were deemed valuable attributes to the community, which ultimately functioned to maintain balance in society,” Manning said. “The heartfelt and fiery perspectives of women have long been necessary for many critical decisions of the community, as women felt and understood things in ways that the Creator actually intended for us to. Our emotions, and our fire, they are blessings, they are assets, and critical pieces to conversations, still today.”
3. Amanda Blackhorse, Diné
“Indigenous women are naturally leaders,” Blackhorse said. “It’s imperative we have a voice in our communities. Native women have lead movements, we’ve been the organizers, we’ve been on the front lines, and we’ve been behind the scenes. We have sustained and fed movements, and because of this it is ever more important that we be heard, especially in media.”
4. Gabriela Maya Bernadett, Tohono O’odham Nation
“It is imperative to have a consistent Native female voice in mainstream media, because oftentimes we are the minority of the minority,” Bernadett said. “Not only do indigenous women face the challenges of being a minority in a predominately white society, but we also face the challenges of being female in a male-dominated world. Our stories are wholly unique and deserve to be acknowledged.”
5. Jennifer Kay Falcon, Fort Peck Assiniboine Sioux
“Native American women are among the most marginalized minorities in the U.S.,” said Falcon. “Our stories are under-reported, if reported at all. Native communities are constantly ignored in the U.S. unless companies are using our culture to sell materialism to the masses. With women in the newsroom we give Native women a voice, we have Native women on the ground reporting our communities’ stories, and we have strong women for Native kids to look up to and think, ‘One day I am going to be a journalist like Jennifer Falcon and report about the beauty and tragedies that happen in Indian country.’”
6. Charlotte Logan, Akwesasne Mohawk
“Understanding who we are as indigenous people in this time and place requires constant growth and dialogue,” Logan said. “Mostly I worry about our young women and how social media can both negatively influence them, as well as speed up the process of assimilation. Our youth are experiencing unprecedented levels of exposure to mainstream culture. If we do not provide a beacon of some sort, we risk even more cultural loss. Our indigenous voices are crucial. Every strong narrative that our youth are exposed to galvanizes their idea of what is possible for their future. Every story I read about language revitalization encouraged me to get serious about learning my language. I’m thankful to those individuals who could share those stories.”