- Special Edition IntroductionIndigenous Women's Perspectives on Twenty-first-century Community Building
I am honored to write the introduction for this special issue of Wicazo Sa Review, which recognizes the role that Indigenous women have played in our communities from time immemorial. Indigenous women are the holders of our traditions, the mothers to our children, the economic drivers in their families, the social cohesion that unites our communities, and the knowledge bearers of our beliefs, cultures, and languages. The articles for this issue privilege Indigenous women and communities and were each written by Indigenous women scholars who hold professor positions at various institutions. Each author presented her work represented in this issue at the fourteenth annual Viola F. Cordova Symposium at the University of New Mexico in March 2018. Born in 1937, Viola Cordova (Jicarilla Apache) was the first Native American woman to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy, receiving the degree in 1992 from the University of New Mexico. She published many of her writings and was highly respected and regarded for articulating and defining a Native American philosophy. After she passed away suddenly in 2002, her colleagues organized her writings into the highly acclaimed book How It Is: The Native American Philosophy of V. F. Cordova. It is fitting that the authors' scholarship in this Wicazo Sa Review issue aligns with Viola Cordova's values and mission. She believed in challenging Western frameworks of knowledge and spoke about the duty of Native peoples to speak for ourselves based on our own worldviews and lived experiences. In How It Is, she stated, [End Page 5]
We have earned the right to become doctors, lawyers, scientists,-we have not yet been accorded the right to speak for ourselves. Our "myths" and "legends" are explored over and over again in many disciplines and always the explanations seem inadequate to Native Americans. The time has come for American native peoples to give their own explanations. And that is the relevance of the study of philosophy for Native Americans: not to see ourselves as others see us, but to look at ourselves through our own eyes.1
Cordova called for Native people to define how we see ourselves and to provide our own explanations and theories. This issue responds to that call by highlighting the research and perspectives of Indigenous women scholars within their diverse academic fields of sociology, education, health, and Native American Studies. The authors provide contemporary examples of the important role Indigenous women play in contributing to academic knowledge, but more importantly to knowledge that transforms and sustains our communities. They share a wealth of knowledge and perspectives. Their work ranges from recognizing the role of women in leadership, the importance of motherhood in the academy, the complex issues of our health, and the significance of women for building community and decolonizing conceptions of Native Nation building.
During the Cordova symposium in 2018, former Isleta Pueblo Governor Verna Teller gave a keynote address. Teller stated that she believed for most Native Nations in this country, they were likely matrilineal societies. She felt leaders in our communities today should remember that and focus on our children and grandchildren. She said, "It's about looking at how we are planning for our future. You are our hope!" as she was speaking to youth in the audience. With that in mind, each of the author's work represented here turns the lens inward to conceptualize planning for our youth, families, and communities.
Robin Zape-tah-hol-ah Minthorn advances the important role of Indigenous motherhood in our communities and in the academy. Minthorn argues that we resist Western culture by exerting our sovereignty and nationhood through our children. Tennille Larzelere Marley views our reservations as places of resilience and continuity, not just as having health disparities. She states that as Indigenous peoples, we know what to do to be healthier. Wendy Shelly Greyeyes turns the lens toward our leaders and how they are working with our local communities. Greyeyes asserts the importance of consultation with the people in our communities and our own local stories and knowledge to inform decision-making. Heather J. Shotton writes about the experiences...