Restoring political, economic and community power to women is a growing movement in today’s world. For Native women it is especially powerful to reassert these rights. In many cases, doing so restores the cultural beliefs of indigenous groups by returning women to their historical place of influence. It’s a place that was usurped by colonialism and religious oppression that removed the power indigenous women often had within their tribe, replacing it with the male-driven ideology dominant in the conquering culture. One organization which seeks to restore the power and influence of indigenous women is WEWIN, Women Empowering Women for Indigenous Nations.
WEWIN was founded in 2004 by a group of Native women, including the late Wilma Mankiller. The organization laid out several goals they hoped to meet: sustaining and strengthening Native culture, promoting, supporting and encouraging tribal leaders, educating others about the history and rights of tribal people and how current issues affect the long-term health of Native communities. They also promote programs which seek to find a healthy balance between service to the community and family and personal needs.
One way in which WEWIN meets these goals is their annual conference. This gathering gives them the opportunity to offer workshops to educate and inspire Native women to empower themselves and their communities through the development of leadership skills. The conference also honors those women who have dedicated themselves to service.
Attendees have the opportunity to network with others to create a stronger collective voice for Native issues. In addition, there is a Marketplace where women can display their jewelry, arts and crafts and clothing designs. The organization has created a multi-layered approach to providing inspiration and empowerment for Native women.
This year’s WEWIN conference will be in July in Alpine, California. For more information on the event or the organization, you can check out their website at https://www.wewin04.org/.
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