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Empowering women strengthens Indian country

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Over the last three decades, there has been steady growth in the number of women taking leadership roles in Indian country.

More Native women are being elected to tribal governments, directing programs and organizations, earning graduate degrees, and becoming successful entrepreneurs.

To help mentor another generation of leaders, the fifth annual conference of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations convenes July 31 to Aug. 2 at the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation’s Resort and Casino, 20 miles north of Phoenix. The theme, “Sovereignty: A Generation for Change,” reflects the tenor of Indian country.

WEWIN co-chairs Susan Masten, former chairperson of the Yurok Tribe, and Veronica Homer, former vice chair of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, welcome Native women throughout the nation to attend the conference.

“We need to uplift and encourage women to be strong, and to use the gifts given to us to fulfill the roles our Creator gave us. Women attending this conference have a unique opportunity to meet and gain insights from Native women leaders who are there to share their experiences and encourage new leaders.” – Susan Masten, WEWIN founder and co-president

“Even in difficult times, the hearts of our women are not on the ground,” said Masten, a former president of the National Congress of American Indians. “But we need to support our women if we are to create healthier, more sustainable tribal communities.

“We need to uplift and encourage women to be strong, and to use the gifts given to us to fulfill the roles our Creator gave us. Women attending this conference have a unique opportunity to meet and gain insights from Native women leaders who are there to share their experiences and encourage new leaders.”

“We hope this conference provides Indian and Alaska Native women with support systems and tools, not only to deal with change, but also to integrate information and experience to improve their leadership abilities and grow their businesses,” said Patricia Parker, president of Native American Management Services, Inc. and a WEWIN co-founder.

“This year’s conference theme is about change, and we have all seen a lot of changes this year – changes in politics, the economy and life in general. One of the most exciting things about the conference is that we watch leadership and business skills that women never fully realized they had blossom and come to life.”

On July 31 the conference is hosting a special four-hour training called “The White House Project Training Workshop” to demystify the political process and inspire a diverse group of women to join the leadership pipeline. The course teaches the nuts and bolts of running for political office, including communications, fundraising and campaigning.

Another unique opportunity is a workshop on “Creating Business Excellence” in collaboration with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. The workshop is part of a program for Native women-owned businesses that WEWIN is sponsoring in Oklahoma in September. The four-day intensive learning experience will allow women to assess their strategies for financing a business, growing in scale and profitability, and penetrating customers and markets. Attendance is limited to 60 high-potential Native American women.

Other workshops cover preparing for leadership, public speaking and media relations, sovereignty, an update of current public legislation and court decisions, personal finance, balancing one’s personal and professional life, managing stress, and a special entrepreneurs panel by successful Native women sharing business strategies.

The National Indian Education Association will also present a workshop on issues affecting American Indian and Alaska Native women and youth.

For more information, contact Masten at (916) 202-2797 or e-mail susanmasten@earthlink.net or contact Bridgett Bidle at (571) 323-5641 or e-mail bridgett@namsinc.org. For information visit www.wewin04.org.