Symposium on the American Indian

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The 47th Annual Symposium on the American Indian
Celebrating Indigenous Women

April 8-13, 2019
Northeastern State University
University Center, Tahlequah, OK


The 47th Annual Symposium on the American Indian will be held on April 8-13, 2019 on the NSU campus in Tahlequah, OK. The theme, Celebrating Indigenous Women, will honor both modern and legendary matriarchs, focusing on women who have contributed to the success and growth of our Indigenous communities and families. While not all tribes are defined as matrilineal or matriarchal, the contributions of women is ever present in Indigenous families and communities. Indigenous women serve as guides, teachers, caregivers, strategists, counselors and cultural preservationists. Not only do they serve as leaders within their families, but also their communities, their tribes, and professions. Presentations will tell the stories of our past and present women leaders, from the most well-known and celebrated to those who are just beginning to be recognized. This will include those who have made significant contributions in the areas of law, literature, anthropology, history, art, language revitalization and others.

Keynote speakers include: Tara Houska, JD, Dr. Mary Jo Tippeconnic Fox, and Erin Griffin.

Hosted By: 
NSU Center for Tribal Studies

All events are FREE and open to the public


Tara Houska, J.D. (Couchiching First Nation) – Sponsored by Oklahoma Humanities

Keynote Presentation: Wednesday, April 10th at 9:30 am
Natural Law: Women Water Keepers

In many indigenous cultures, natural law holds women as keepers of the water. We see this natural order reflected in today’s environmental struggles; in successful movements to protect water, women are in leadership roles. How do we maintain our traditional roles while navigating the U.S. legal system? Westernized legal structures are centered around Mother Earth as a “resource” -- how do we reconcile or work around that framework within traditional law?

Tara Houska is Ojibwe from Couchiching First Nation. She is the National Campaigns Director of Honor the Earth, a tribal rights attorney, a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, and a Native American advisor to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Tara is involved in advocacy on a broad spectrum of issues facing indigenous communities with a focus on environmental justice, protection of sacred sites, and institutional racism. Her experience ranges from grassroots organizing to working for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Erin Griffin. M.A. (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate) – Sponsored by Oklahoma Humanities
Director of Dakota Studies, Sisseton Wahpeton College

Keynote Presentation: TBD
Vitalizing the Dakota Language
The number of speakers of the Dakota Language has continually dropped despite the continued efforts of many language programs and decades of work. In five years, Sisseton Wahpeton College has made progress in reversing this trend by creating news speakers, working towards establishing family language nests and immersion, and vitalizing the Dakota language within the Sisseton-Wahpeton community. The opportunities, barriers, and lessons learned that have led to and impacted this advancement will be discussed.

Erin Griffin serves as a mentor in the Indigenous Visionaries fellowship program. An enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate in South Dakota from the Westerman family, Griffin is currently the Director of Dakota Studies at Sisseton Wahpeton College (SWC) where she has worked since 2013. With a master of arts degree in sociocultural anthropology from the University of Oklahoma, Griffin has used her lifelong interest in traditional arts, language, and history to transform the Dakota Studies Department at SWC with the establishment of extensive new programming, including the Traditional Dakota Arts workshop series, the SWC Archives, the Dakota Studies and Tribal Arts Center, the Dakota Language teaching certificate, and the Voices of Our Ancestors Dakota Language immersion program. Griffin is an established beadwork and quillwork artist.

Mary Jo Tippeconnic Fox, Ph.D (Comanche/Cherokee)
Research Professor, The University of Arizona

Keynote Presentation: Friday, April 12th at 9:30 am
Indigenous women: community, society, and Native well-being

A focus on the impact of Indigenous women on tribal sovereignty, Nation building, self-determination, and gender issues through activism, education, Indigenous feminism, tribalism, and social justice efforts at the tribal, national and global levels in the 21st century. Highlighting the contributions of a number of Indigenous women to demonstrate their impact upon their communities, society, and Native well-being.

Dr. Fox is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, Research Professor of American Indian Studies (AIS), and affiliate faculty in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona (UA). At UA, she is the former Head of American Indian Studies, Associate Head of AIS, Assistant Vice-President for Minority Affairs, and Associate to the President for American Indian Affairs. Her scholarly activities are focused on historical and contemporary Native American women’s issues, American Indian Studies, and American Indian education with an emphasis on higher education.


Holiday Inn Express
2143 Mahaney Avenue
Tahlequah, OK  74464
(918) 506-4545

Econo Lodge
101 Reasor St.
Tahlequah, OK 74464
(918) 431-0600

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