The Old Trails Museum will present our 2021 Fall History Highlight online through the Virtual AZ Speaks program from Arizona Humanities. On Saturday, November 20, at 2 pm, OTM will host Dr. Laura Tohe’s presentation of More than Pocahontas and Squaws: Indigenous Women Coming into Visibility.

Arizona Humanities has temporarily transitioned their popular speaker presentations online so that statewide audiences can still enjoy high-quality cultural programming in these challenging times. Register for the virtual program here.

In this engaging presentation, Dr. Tohe will explore how Indigenous American women have contributed service to Arizona and the US, yet remain invisible in the media and stereotyped in early films. Nevertheless, they have been honored in all areas of public service – law, medicine, literature, military, education, and activism, with awards such as the Presidential Freedom and the MacArthur (genius award), among others.

Among some traditional tribal cultures, women’s lives are modeled after female heroes and sacred women who exemplify and express courage and kinship values. Rites of passage celebrate female creativity and the transformative nature of women, hence there was not a need for the concept of feminism. This talk presents related aspects of Indigenous culture and how women have contributed in significant ways, not only to their tribal nations, but to contemporary American life.

Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Sleepy Rock people clan born for the Bitter Water people clan and is the daughter of a Navajo Code Talker. She is Professor Emerita with Distinction from Arizona State University and is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Meeting the Spirit of Water (chapbook), Sister Nations (Co-editor), Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories (oral history). Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, world premiered for the Phoenix Symphony, and her latest libretto, Nahasdzaan in the Glittering World, was performed in France in 2019.  Among her awards are the 2020 Academy of American Poetry Fellowship; 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers Award; and the Arizona Book Association’s Glyph Award for Best Poetry.

OTM’s 2021 Fall History Highlight is made possible by Arizona Humanities, and we are grateful to them for giving us the opportunity to offer this program in a safe and engaging way.

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