Published On: Mon, Sep 20th, 2010
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Women of Proud Nations Conference held in Cherokee

By DAWN ARNEACH

ONE FEATHER STAFF

Hannah Smith (left) and Anita Johnson, both EBCI tribal members and attorneys, participate in a panel discussion on Women and the Law at the 4th Annual Conference for American Indian Women of Proud Nations held this past week in Cherokee. (Photo by Dawn Arneach/One Feather)

The 4th Annual Conference for American Indian Women of Proud Nations was held at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel on Sept. 16-17.  Workshops and panels discussions covered varying topics from Women and Law to Languages and Youth.  Speakers and special guests were from many tribes including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Osage, Comanche, Lumbee and Haliwa-Saponi.

The corridor of the conference area featured several Native Artists and their artwork set up for guests to view and buy pieces.  The program’s cover artwork, Save Kituwah by EBCI artist Shan Goshorn, was part of a series of images by the artist.

The Cherokee Youth Council held a presentation that showed how the group has been recognized by the Tribe and the work the Youth are involved in and around the Qualla Boundary.  Finishing out their presentation, the video project they put together on teen pregnancy was shown to the audience.  The youth were involved in every aspect of the video from interview questions to choosing who to interview as well as what the topic was to be for the project. To view the video, visit http://www.vimeo.com/12861528.

One panel was “Women, Law and Leadership”, and EBCI tribal members Sarah M. Sneed, Hannah E. Smith and Anita Johnson talked about how the roles of women and laws from before contact to present day has changed and how women need to take back the traditional role of leadership in their communities.   They also described how people were born or adopted into a clan and how your rights were protected by the clan. 

They told that in a clan system, the women decided things.  The house and family belonged to the women so the man came and went with what he had.

They said that women used to have a voice, but with the coming of the Europeans, their voice was slowly taken away.

They concluded by saying that women need to take back the responsibilities that were once theirs in the first place.

On Thursday night, an Honor Ceremony and banquet was held.  Special guest speakers included: Waleila Carey, a member of the Cherokee Nation, and Joyce Dugan, former Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.  During the evening, five women were honored for 2010 four of whom are EBCI tribal members including: Sally Bradley, Joyce Dugan, Kay Sanders, and Amanda Swimmer.  Amelia C. Trice, a member of the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, was also honored.

Next year’s conference will be held in Raleigh at the Marriott Crabtree Valley Hotel and will be hosted by the American Indian Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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