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Tsosie to speak on 'Indigenous Women' at University of Hawaii

March 10, 2009

Rebecca Tsosie, executive director of the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, will discuss "Indigenous Women and International Human Rights Law: Challenges of Colonialism, Cultural Survival and Self-Determination" at a conference at the University of Hawaii on Thursday, March 12.

The discussion is part of the conference on "Indigenous Women's Rights: Conflicts and Challenges for Today's Indigenous Women," put on by the Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal and Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law.

Tsosie's presentation will focus on the potential conflicts between feminist norms within international human rights law and the norms applicable to indigenous peoples.

The conference Web site includes this description of the event:

"Indigenous peoples maintain social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics distinct from those of the dominant societies that they are in. While they are among the most resilient peoples in this world, systemic marginalization throughout history has arguably made them one of the poorest and most vulnerable groups of people today.

"When combined with other forms of discrimination like race or ethnicity, the effects of gender discrimination can multiply. Indigenous women are targets of gender-specific and racially-motivated violence and discrimination. They may face forced pregnancy, sexual assault, forced sterilization, domestic abuse, and denial of legal rights and protection. Further, patriarchal traditions and cultural mores have created obstacles to their participation in leadership roles and decision-making processes.

"The Pacific region has had a longstanding history of discrimination against indigenous persons and women influenced by cultural mores and colonization. As we move into the future, rapid economic and political developments in the region have contributed to the continuation of unequal treatment of indigenous persons and women."

Tsosie teaches in the areas of Indian law, Property, Bioethics, and Critical Race Theory, as well as seminars in International Indigenous Rights and in the College's Tribal Policy, Law, and Government Master of Laws program. She has written and published widely on doctrinal and theoretical issues related to tribal sovereignty, environmental policy and cultural rights, and is the author of many prominent articles dealing with cultural resources and cultural pluralism. Tsosie also is the co-author with Robert Clinton and Carole Goldberg of a federal Indian law casebook. Her current research deals with Native rights to genetic resources.

Judy Nichols,
(480) 727-7895
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law