“Women of Hope”

Nov 15th, 1997 | By | Category: 9-3: Responsible Welfare Reform, Media Reviews

Charlotte Black Elk was one of the 12 women featured in the Bread and Roses poster series. Photo by Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie

produced by: Bread and Roses Cultural Project 1997, New York, N.Y.

Review by Lydia Whirlwind Soldier

Women of Hope posters feature 12 Native American women leaders. This collection of posters lends itself especially well to connecting students to contemporary Native American women. The posters promote cultural pride by taking us on a journey through the lives of the women featured: poet Joy Harjo; surgeon Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord; scholar of Lakota tradition Charlotte Black Elk; activists Carrie and Mary Dann and Winona LaDuke; Native Hawaiian teacher Pualani Kanahele; Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller; theatrical director Muriel Miguel; president of Little Big Horn College Janine Pease-Pretty on Top; singer Joanne Shenandoah; artist Jaune Quick to See Smith; and anthropologist Rosita Worl.

“The Women of Hope poster series is designed to help overcome the sense of powerlessness that we often feel in the face of injustice and to find the circle of strength that exists within the classroom,” according to the introduction. The Native American and Hawaiian Women of Hope is part of a series on women of various cultures.

The posters and study guide can be easily adapted for use across cultures and grade levels and integrated into other content areas. The teachers’ guide also provides important census information and other facts, biographies of the 12 women, and a resource guide. The hands‑on activities are designed to orchestrate and promote the joy of learning through the development of cultural pride, creative and critical thinking, and research skills. The research skills will give students the opportunity to articulate their understanding about the Native American experience. The activities encourage students to become conscious of environmental concerns; to explore art, music, and lyrics of composers who motivate people to create change; to counteract stereotypes; and to create strategies to enhance the cultural heritage of Native Americans.

This collection of posters goes beyond clichés and testimonials. They focus on the women’s accomplishments and struggles and provide guidance and philosophical Native American teachings. This gives teachers room to design and build on other units and courses. The posters can be displayed where the students can view them daily. From whatever vantage point the teacher decides to use these posters, they are a positive connection between Native American role models and what students are learning in school.

No doubt about it, this type of material used in the classroom is not typical. Even so, among the many agendas of education, we need to assure an empowering education that teaches the students to appreciate the power of understanding cross‑cultural issues.

Lydia Whirlwind Soldier is Sicangu Lakota and the Indian Studies Curriculum Specialist for Todd County School District, S.D. To order any of the poster series, contact Bread and Roses at 330 West 42nd St., 7th Floor, New York NY 10036 or call (212) 631-4565.

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