Indian women spotlighted at Coe Thursday Forum

Extra: Lonnie Zingula, Associate Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8613 or

2009-12-21 11:06:50 - General

Ignored in most history books, Native American women will be spotlighted to open the new year at Coe College's Thursday Forum.

Coe's lecture series for adult learners will open 2010 with a two-week examination of the private and public lives of First Nations women by Rhetoric Professor Deborah Wooldridge.

Week one will explore traditional roles of women in private life as teachers of the youth and the moral heart of the community. Because First Nations history was passed down orally, the lecture will include stories about women that were used to teach children roles and values. Mothers of some important leaders like Crazy Horse will be discussed as influences on their sons' moral character. An especially close look will be taken at the role of grandmothers and female elders. The lecture will conclude with a brief look at the role of women in 21st century Indian families.

Week two will focus on more public roles of women - such as White Buffalo Calf Woman, the Two-Faced Woman and the Corn Maiden - beginning with the traditional spiritual leadership of women in the First Nations and their role as healers. It's in public life that interesting differences between matriarchal, patriarchal and egalitarian tribes most strongly surface, with women in matriarchal tribes assuming strong political roles. The lecture will conclude with a brief look at the changing role of the women in contemporary Indian spirituality and politics.

Wooldridge teaches a May Term course on the Lakota (Sioux) during which she and students live and volunteer at the Standing Rock reservation in north-central South Dakota.

The lectures are held in Kesler Lecture Hall in Hickok Hall on the Coe campus. Each session begins with coffee and pastries from 8:45-9:15 a.m., followed by the class until 11:30 a.m. The course is open to all adults and registration, which costs $10 per week, is on-site.

For more information, call (319) 399-8561. Thursday Forum schedule:

  • "First Nations Women" - Jan. 14, 21
  • "My Country 'tis of Thee: Musical Nationalism Around the World" - Feb. 4, 11, 18, 25
  • "Armchair Adventures: Earthwatch Expeditions & Great Destinations" - March 4, 11, 18, 25
  • "Merchants, Migrants & Missionaries: A History of U.S.-East Asia Interaction" - April 1, 8, 15, 22