Even When Erased, We Exist: Native Women Standing Strong for Justice

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Spring 2019 quarter

Taught by

Native American studies, history, women's studies

Native American women have been erased from history. It is not that they did not exist; it is that they were made invisible, omitted from history. At the same time stereotypes such as "squaw" and "princess" have plagued Native women since 1492. Ironically, the history of Native women reflects a different reality with a long tradition of standing strong for justice. Native women have stood to protect the lands and the natural world, their cultures and languages, the health of their families, and tribal sovereignty. But few learn about these Native women, who consistently defied the stereotypes in order to work for the betterment of their peoples and nations.

Drawing upon the experiences and writings of such women, we will explore the ways in which leadership is articulated in many Native American communities. We will critique the ways in which feminist theory has both served and ignored Native women. Through case studies, autobiography, literature, and films, we will analyze how Native women have argued for sovereignty and developed agendas that privilege community over individuality. We will explore the activism of 20th century Native women leaders, particularly in the areas of the environment, the family system, and the law.

This program will implement decolonizing methodologies to give voice to some of these women, while deconstructing the stereotypes in order to honor and provide a different way of knowing about courageous Native American women, past and present. Students will develop skills as writers, researchers, and potential advocates by studying scholarly and imaginative works and conducting research. Through extensive reading and writing, dialogue, art, films, and possible guest speakers, we will investigate important aspects of the life and times of some of these Native American women across the centuries.

Program Details

Fields of Study

gender and women's studies leadership studies

Preparatory For

Native American studies, women's studies, education, social sciences, U.S. history, leadership studies, and political science.


Spring Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning