The traditional female forces found in Native American creation stories continue to inspire Native women’s art and to empower Native women in their daily lives. However, Native women living on reservations today continue to be the victims of one of the highest per capita rates of violent crime. Sarah Deer, legal scholar and recent recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “Genius Grant,” will address this dark side of indigenous American culture on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 6 pm.
The lecture, “Sovereignty of the Soul: Sexual Violence and Native Women,” will be held in the School of Architecture in the Jack and Carol Corgan Auditorium (Room 170). Deer’s visit was planned in conjunction with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and From the Belly of Being: art by and about Native creation, a current exhibition at the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art.
A citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Deer has applied her extensive knowledge of tribal and federal law to develop policies and legislation that enable to tribal nations to protect Native women from domestic and sexual violence, a longtime and pervasive problem.
In her recent book The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America, Deer wrote “As Native women, we are the most raped people in the nation by far . . . over half of Native women have experience some form of sexual violence.”
To address this issue, she is currently working to build tribal infrastructure and revitalize Native Americans’ pre-colonial criminal justice systems as a foundation for contemporary laws and policies.
Deer is a professor and co-director of the Indian Law Clinic at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. Minn. Previously she served as a victim advocacy legal specialist and staff attorney at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute. She received her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
From the Belly of Our Being is supported in part by the following: an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Jeanene and Ron Hulsey, Mary Ann and Ken Fergeson, the Chickasaw Nation, the Oklahoma Arts Council, OSU/A&M Board of Regents, and the OSU Museum of Art Advocates. In addition, the OSU Museum of Art would like to extend a thank you to Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, Minn., and the Institute of American Indian Arts Museum in Santa Fe, NM.