Above the Fold, October 9

Dear Colleagues,

As we head into a long weekend, I am taking time to celebrate Indigenous people and to reflect on the contributions and leadership of Indigenous women. Long before Christopher Columbus took a wrong turn that would change the course of history, Indigenous women of the Caribbean, North and South America enjoyed equal status to men, including leadership positions within their nations. Today, Indigenous women are leading movements to reclaim the rights eroded by western influences post-invasion.

Today, I look to leaders like writer and scholar Leanne Simpson, who played an important part in the Idle No More movement, which protested treaty betrayals and environmental injustices impacting First Nations. Simpson is an intersectional feminist who has written about the connections between Black and Indigenous fights for justice. And I look to LaDonna Harris, a political and feminist activist, who is the founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity. Or Zintkala Mahpiya Wi Blackowl, who made the conscious decision to give birth in the Standing Rock camp during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. She said, “Having babies is my act of resistance; our reproductive rights as Native women have been taken away from us in so many ways. At one time, we were forcibly sterilized; assimilation has come down really hard on us.”

On Monday, I will celebrate Indigenous People Day by reflecting on the lessons of these and other Indigenous women leaders, including the late Wilma Mankiller, who said, “We must trust our own thinking. Trust where we’re going. And get the job done.”

Thank you for getting the job done – despite the rise of white supremacists and hate groups like those that threatened Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week. Thank you for trusting where we’re going. 

Thank you for returning to our collective work on Tuesday with renewed energy and commitment to trust the thinking of women and girls of color, and to trust the wisdom of local leaders. 

May your long weekend renew and inspire you, as well as provide you the opportunity for some much-needed rest. 

Yours for equity and justice,

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Women’s Funding Network
President & CEO

Letters from Elizabeth