Wednesday, February 24

Doors: 5:15 PM
Showtime: 5:30 PM

Chautauqua@Home - Virtual Program

FREE Event

This is a virtual Zoom event. This program will begin at 5:30 PM MST, February 24. Join the program at that time HERE.

Women of the 19th Century United States were fighting not just for voting rights, but for their very existence under the law. Organized religion, gender-related science, politics, policy, and social constructs all weighed heavily against progress toward any form of personal autonomy for women. Fighting these odds, and risking public ridicule and jail, what inspired the suffragists to think they could create a world where women could be agents of their own being? The surprising answer may lie with the powerful women of the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois Confederacy of six nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora) in upstate New York.

This program is presented by Professor Sally Roesch Wagner, the scholar who brought to light this historical narrative, and Mohawk Clan Mother Louise Herne who embodies it. (“I’m not a feminist, I’m the law.”) Together, they have changed forever the foundation of the established history of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

To provide an excellent foundation for this program, between February 17th and March 3rd, you are encouraged to access the 27 minute PBS documentary, Without a Whisper – Konnón:kwe, featuring Dr. Wagner and Ms. Herne, with an appearance by Gloria Steinem. This groundbreaking film, directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Katsitsionni Fox (Mohawk), will illuminate the complex indigenous model of freedom that sparked the revolutionary vision of early feminists.

Access to the film can be found HERE. Tickets are $5.

Speaker Bios:

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner

Awarded one of the first doctorates in the country for work in women’s studies (UC Santa Cruz) and a founder of one the first college-level women’s studies programs in the United States (CSU Sacramento), Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner has taught women’s studies courses for 50 years. She currently serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Syracuse University Renée Crown University Honors Program. Dr. Wagner is the Founder and Executive Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation and Center for Social Justice Dialogue in Fayetteville, New York.

A major historian of the suffrage movement, Dr. Wagner was active on the national scene during the 2020 suffrage centennial year. She appeared on the CNN Special Report: Women Represented and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Smithsonian, Nation and Time Magazine, among others. Her articles have appeared in the New York Daily News, Ms. Magazine, and the National Women’s History Alliance newsletter and National Suffrage Centennial Commission blog.

A prolific author, Dr. Wagner’s anthology The Women’s Suffrage Movement, with a Forward by Gloria Steinem (Penguin Classics, 2019), unfolds a new intersectional look at the 19th century woman’s rights movement. Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists (Native Voices, 2001) documents the surprisingly unrecognized authority of Native women, who inspired the suffrage movement. It was followed by her young reader’s book, We Want Equal Rights: How Suffragists Were Influenced by Native American Women (Native Voices, 2020).

Wakerakatste Louise McDonald Herne

Louise Herne is a condoled Bear Clan Mother for the Mohawk Nation Council. She is a trusted advisor for families and community youth and works closely with them in their homes and schools. She bestows traditional names in the longhouse and provides spiritual counsel for all those seeking support.

Through her work as a matrilineal leader and as a mother, she is a founding member of Konon:kwe (Goh-noon-gwe) Council, a circle of Mohawk women working to reconstruct the power of their origins through education, empowerment and trauma-informed approaches. Louise champions the philosophy of Kahnistensera (Ga-nees-the-sa-lah), “Mother Law”—a natural law that binds Onkwehon:we (Uhn-gwe-hoo-weh), or Indigenous, kinship society. She is the lead conductor of the Moon Lodge Society, a convening women and girls on a monthly basis in line with the full moon cycle.

Louise is the principal organizer and leader of Ohero:kon (Uh-ho-low-go), “Under the Husk”), a traditional Rite of Passage ceremony for Mohawk youth. Since 2005, she has guided hundreds of community families and volunteers through self-reflection and Haudenosaunee cultural instruction and ceremony.

Currently a Spirit Aligned Legacy Leader, Louise has presented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and lectures regularly at universities throughout Canada and the United States on Haudenosaunee philosophies and self-determination regarding women. Louise, affectionately known as Mama Bear, is the Distinguished Scholar in Indigenous Learning at McMaster University Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (MIIETL).

Leslie Durgin (Moderator)

Leslie Durgin will lead the conversation with program speakers. Her career in state and local government and non-profit organization management includes positions as Senior Policy Director in three departments in Colorado State government, advisor to the Governor, Executive Director of the Colorado Chautauqua Association and Boulder Valley Women’s Health, and Senior Vice-President of the multi-state Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Elected to the Boulder City Council in 1989, she served in that position until 1997 and was also elected Mayor of the City of Boulder for four consecutive terms. A leading advocate for women’s rights and civic engagement, she currently serves on several non-profit Boards, and chairs the Conference on World Affairs Board of Directors.