Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation 2009 Conference and Forum

The 2009 Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference and Forum hosted by the Chickasaw Nation Division of Arts and Humanities and East Central University Chickasaw Clemente Humanities Courses was held on April 16th, 2009 in Ada, Oklahoma. This first ever conference, in addition to the annual forum, was well received and those in attendance agreed that the event was an enjoyable learning experience. Held in the Estep Auditorium on East Central University Campus, there was also an accompanying Chickasaw Women’s Art Exhibit, Writing workshops with famed Chickasaw writer Linda Hogan, and a book signing, where Ms. Hogan signed her new book People of the Whale.

In addition to Ms. Hogan’s creative writing workshops, the conference included six Chickasaw women speakers, three of whom were honored at the forum in the evening as the Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation. The morning part of the event included two speakers. The first was Sherry Abbott Todd, the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma. She spoke on the impacts her Chickasaw family and heritage has had on her professional life. Following Ms. Todd, this author spoke on the impact of Native Women in Arizona Indian Country. Following the morning portion of the conference, was a well attended luncheon. The speaker, Deanna Hartley-Kelso, the Chickasaw Nation Attorney General, reflected on her experiences working on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Her talk was inspiring!

The afternoon portion of the Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Conference included four speakers. The first was Jeannie Barbour, a recognized artist and the Director of the Chickasaw Press. She spoke on historic and contemporary Chickasaw art forms. Following Ms. Barbour, Chickasaw textile artist and designer Margaret Roach Wheeler, who took Best in Class at this year’s Heard Indian Fair and Market, spoke on how her heritage directly influences her textile designs and materials.

Following a short break, the afternoon speakers rounded out the conference topics that ranged from law, government, and the arts, with a discussion of women’s wellness. Dr. Tina Cooper, the Family Practice Service Chief at Carl Albert Indian Health Facility, spoke generally on women’s health issues and the importance of taking care of one’s self. Finally, Dr. Judy Goforth Parker, Professor of Nursing at East Central University gave an enlightening talk about breast cancer.

The Dynamic Women of the Chickasaw Nation Forum, held the same evening, honored Sherry Abbott Todd, this author, Margaret Roach Wheeler and Chickasaw Elder Beulah Shavney. Moderated by Lisa John, the Director of the Division of Education for the Chickasaw Nation, the panelists were asked a series of questions by the moderator and the audience. The evening was lively as Ms. Beulah Shavney spoke about her experiences in World War II as Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The event was informative and interesting to all who attended.

The Chickasaw Nation’s Arts and Humanities Division should be commended for putting on a well organized and interesting event. This author was humbled to have been in attendance and to be honored by the Chickasaw Nation as a Dynamic Woman, alongside the other women at the Forum.

Published by Traci L. Morris

Dr. Morris, the Director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Under her leadership, the AIPI has grown and diversified its service to Indian Country via an MOU formalizing a long-standing partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and forming the Tribal Economic Leadership Program offering training in Tribal Economic Governance and Tribal Financial Management; access to Entrepreneurship training and tribal business support through Inno-Nations; and Economic Development Consulting; and, the formalization of the Institute via by-laws and an advisory board comprised of both internal ASU leadership and external tribal and non-tribal leadership. In her work at both ASU and prior, Morris has worked with Native American tribes; Tribal businesses; Native American non-profits; Native media makers, artists, and galleries; written a college-accredited curriculum in Native American new media; and has advocated for digital inclusion at the Federal Communications Commission and on Capitol Hill. Morris’s research and publications on Native American media and the digital divide is focused on Internet use, digital inclusion, network neutrality, digital and new media curriculums, digital inclusion and development of broadband networks in Indian Country. Her book, Native American Voices: A Reader, continues to be a primary teaching tool in colleges throughout the country. Dr. Morris is Affiliated Faculty at ASU's School for the Future of Innovation in Society, an Affiliate of ASU's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, President of the Board of the Phoenix Indian Center, Board member of the Arizona American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and on the Advisory Council of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums. Formerly, Morris served member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Labor's Native American Employment and Training Council and served a two-year appointment (2014-2016 and 2010-2012) on the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee. As an entrepreneur prior to her ASU appointment, Morris founded Homahota Consulting LLC, a national Native American woman-owned professional services firm working in policy analysis, telecommunications, education, and research assisting tribes in their nation-building efforts and working with Native Nations, tribal businesses and those businesses working with tribes. Morris has an M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies, in addition to a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University.

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