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Women*s Center

3rd Annual Honoring Indigenous Women

WSU is a land grant institution that resides on the ancestral homelands of the Palus people and on the ceded lands of the Nimíipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe. To highlight the contributions and community of Indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest and around the world, Native American Programs and the Women*s Center offers this page to celebrate the thriving culture and value that Indigenous peoples add to our university. We present this showcase of art and ongoing efforts from Indigenous Women and allied folks including students, faculty, and community members from across the region.

Indigenous communities are identified as those that have a historical and cultural claim to territories which pre-date the arrival of Europeans. This event is held on the traditional lands of the Palouse and Nez Perce People, and we pay our respect to elders both past and present. We honor phenomenal women that have had to navigate holding on to their native culture and yet step into a much-colonized space.  

woman in black and white looking at the camera with a red painted handprint covering her mouth including the words "tiger lily no more stolen sisters an ugly cousin production"

Cover of Short Film "Tiger Lily" by WSU student Misty Shipman-Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe/Chinook Descendant)

Tiger Lily Is My Little Sister is a short film to raise awareness of the issue of MMIWG, and to provide tools for communities to take practical steps in the event that one of their family members goes missing. The film stars Dr. Evan Adams, Hope Shipman-Ellingburg, and Alec Bluff. I created the film because I heard the voice of Dr. Adams saying the lines of one of my poems. It was like an echo, a clear strong voice breaking through the mist on a dark night. When I heard his voice, I followed the sound, and I built the story around that.

a man and woman with painted red handprints covering their mouths

Photograph from Short Film "Tiger Lily" by Misty Shipman-Ellingburg

Misty's Poem Read by Dr. Adams

painting on ledger paper with Indigenous women being drawn up to the sun

"Missing and Murdered" Painting by Shirley M. Brauker

See more of Shirley's work

ceramic jar with floral branches, Indigenous women, and the outline of missing Indigenous woman

"Missing Sisters" by Shirley M. Brauker

woman sitting and holding 2 babies surrounded by flowers on notebook paper

Digital Painting by WSU alum Elsie Anne Cree (Yakama/Nez Perce)

This is a piece I did in memory of my late mother Della “Stormy” Wheeler. She passed away in 2017. I sent this piece because her prayers still guide me and still protect me and I am forever thankful. She raised me to be a strong Indigenous Woman.

beadwork of white rabbit in a blue coat with a pocket watch

Original Beadwork by Misty Shipman-Ellingburg

beadwork of white rabbit wearing a white, heart-covered coat with a horn and scroll

Original Beadwork by Misty Shipman-Ellingburg

black, white, and red beadwork of a bird and face next to a feather

Beadwork Design Reproduced with Permission by Misty Shipman-Ellingburg

black, white, turquoise, and red beadwork of a bird

Beadwork Design Reproduced with Permission by Misty Shipman-Ellingburg

8 vertical, colorful banners with geometric patterns hanging behind a stage with a podium, table, and flower arrangements

Regalia by Doe Stahr (Tlingit Ally)

We serve to bring cultural grandeur to public events and the private commercial banquets where intertribal and multicultural groups meet to conduct business, education, and ceremonial events. These pieces serve like regalia for the room in vertical setups and right on the banquet tables.  At global culture gatherings, each can find a home, or 'travel' to many cultural centers throughout the room. We dress 30 or more events each year, including Indigenous Peoples Day for City of Seattle, and the Seattle Race Conference, and the North Puget Sound Conference on Race annual conference in Everett. We serve major universities and community colleges of Washington for tribal leadership events and fundraising galas. Multicultural Day is our favorite for serving elementary, middle and High schools. The mixed media art displays beautifully along corridors on tack strips and they are touchable!  Our banners were carried by members of the Native Women's drum group who led off the Seattle Women's March. The collection is 14 years in the making, numbering 350 and growing. All this is in service of affirming the complex identities of the native and minority groups in the North West; and educating all the rest. Groups contract to rent selected pieces of art with installation service, at great savings over purchase.
Visit Deer Creek Studio and contact artist Doe.

canvas with circular, geometric design including a wave and real flowers

Canvas by Doe Stahr

panorama of banquet hall showing many tables covered in tapestries

Canvases by Doe Stahr

Most frequently asked question: "How many pieces of art are in the room?" My reply, "one." Like words in a story, each creates context for all the others. They began with Tlingit and Haida, then grew to include Northwest coast tribes, then the circumpacific Indigenous. Now the collection has pieces from nearly every continent.

circular tapestry with geometric designs and figures holding hands with fish in the corners

Canvas by Doe Stahr

Muscogee Feathers: Decolonizing Manifesto

when I was a child

I used to hide my Muscogee feathers

because I thought they represented my shame,

when I became a woman

I began to wear the wounded feather

to honor my nation’s devastating pain,

now that I’m a mother,

I boldly wear the eagle feather

to show my ride into the enemies’ eyes

making them take their blame

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

Celebrate:

Theoretical Deconstruction of Legacy of Conquest

they celebrate  

a day off from work and school

—swaddled in patriotism,

            the heralded navigator

            and renowned explorer;

sitting alone

            I know your exploits of

countless christian sins—

stealer of land and children,

cold slave owner,

building your house on the

           blood of natives,

filling your hunger on the

nectar of virgins—

             clumsy navigator,

             crucible murderer—

come close to me

             and smell my nectar,

rub your hand

against my nipple,

             cast your

             finger below my navel,

Mr. Columbus, let me whisper,

            come closer to me;

my breath like fire 

            erases your existence

when I whisper

Genocide

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

Culture  

polluted culture,      

damaged by    invasion,    

              in all my years

growing up on              dog river,

no one

ever taught

me      

             where      the sun rises

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

Ode to My Brother

softly rocking

            in unison

over road bumps

            twin antler tips

rising above the tailgate

tell me Hunter has killed another

one of my relatives,

out of season;

I pray,

           Brother Deer,

                          your body will

become more than

a showoff’s mantelpiece

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

Crooked Feather

in the flickering firelight as the dancers

shadowed the crowd,

there was one… just one—the one

with the crooked feather;

all the painted men

danced with straight feathers while I

saw only one,

young women

watched as they stepped to the beat

with vividly arrayed feathers…

but I saw the one with the crooked feather

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

Mother’s Milk

breeze

            meanders through

sunlit bathroom           window,

nostrils gather

            hint of 

            of mother’s     milk,

five      newborns

            nurse

in laundry basket

on stray

            rescued

                        tabby cat nipples,

thinking         

            I am one of five,

never rescued,

never                           knowing

               taste of

mother’s milk,

attain solace

               in someone else’s

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

gods of nature

I watched the golden moon

drip, drip, drip

until she fell into dog river;

moss-laden oaks

watched the shiny moon

smile

as she hid among the ripples,

an old Muscogee wind blew

a tiny note of

rhythm

to her playful mischief,

I watched the gods of nature

dance

before the stars

just like they danced before

my grandmothers

a thousand years before

Poem by Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees

flyer of “show me your mask” business with pictures of masks, jewelry, and descriptions including “eco-friendly, handcrafted luxury accessories from a Native owned small business from Washington”

Masks and Accessories by Birdie Stahr (Washington-based nonbinary Tlingit)

Covid-19 hit Washington State back in March. My husband was one of the first to lose their job as retail locations closed for quarantine. Unemployment was slow and my family needed help to fill in the gaps. I could not find masks for my family so I made some myself, and a few more to donate. As the need rose, I continued to make masks to donate and eventually, sell. I refined the product with feedback from my customers, then I found that I filled a need for comfortable and beautiful masks. There was, and still is an element of anxiety around the act of wearing a mask, I seek to relieve some of that negative connotation. I hope to create a feeling of security when faced with wearing a mask, especially for long periods. The way we feel about how we look affects us- even if only subconsciously. I aim to bring comfort on the face and in the mirror.

Visit Birdie's site and see their work on Instagram and TikTok

black, white, red, and yellow medallion with a red handprint on a beaded chain

Beaded Medallion by Glenna Jenkins (Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe). Picture by Marcella Hadden of Summer Moon Photography

When the Ziibiwing Center announced they were going to do the MMIWG exhibit to help raise awareness on this issue, I asked the director, who is my direct supervisor if I too could have something as part of the exhibit. When she said yes, I thought about what I could do. And the one thing that kept coming to my mind was the red hand. So I decided to do the hand in dark red transparent beads, then used opaque beads to do a medicine wheel in the background. I chose the medicine wheel because it is a sacred symbol to our people, as our women. I learned to bead at a young age with my mother and siblings, but stopped during my adolescent years. After my children showed interest in dancing, I started to bead again, taking classes and workshops to learn new techniques. I took what I learned and applied it to my own skills and challenge myself with different pieces. 

woman lying in grass surrounded by sky, red handprints, a gray background, and flowing water

"Nnoshé my Maternal Aunt" by Nickole Keith (Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi)

The Missing Murdered Indigenous Woman Movement in Indian Country awakened “Nnoshé” and the scar it left on my family. My “Nnoshé” was born July 26, 1954 and raised on the Pine Creek Reservation in Fulton, Mi. She was the 3rd to the youngest of 13 children. She along with nine of her siblings were removed and sent to a foster care home, and later returned. There are presently three siblings left and I felt compelled to share “Nnoshé” story. Her life was taken by jealousy, rage and manipulation on July 10, 1980. The autopsy pathologist described the wound as a laceration through the skin in the left side of the neck which was situated below the earlobe and was between the angle of the mandible (or lower jaw) and the mastoid process of the skull. The assailant was charged with an open count of murder. He was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder, after a six-day jury trial commencing on August 26, 1981, and ending on September 2, 1981. He was sentenced to a term of life imprison and continues to this day to appeal the court’s decision. The assailant is 82 years old. "Nnoshé” which means "My Maternal Aunt" in the Potawatomi language. “Nnoshé” shows a picture of a deceased woman behind various blades of grass whose physical body has begun to return to Mother Earth. The grayish-black stripes represent forms of bondage material, weapons formed against our missing & murdered. The sky with 10 red hand prints, represent the statistics that Anishinabe women face, murder rates more than 10 times the national average. The gold-pearl gems mimic the sunset and offer hope for those that are still missing, and will be rescued alive. Finally, the blue shining crystals represent water which we all have a connection to. It took over a year to complete this painting and my Mother’s blessing to share “Nnoshé”. Our family must begin to join in on the MMIW movement as a way to begin our healing and promote awareness of what is happening in Indian Country.

See Nickole's work on Facebook and Instagram

white, black, red, and yellow graduation camp with beaded flowers, strawberries, "Eve," and a feather tassel

Beaded Graduation Cap by Glenna Jenkins

The graduation cap was commissioned from a friend for her granddaughter Evelyn. She told me to do whatever I wanted. I wasn't sure and gave it alot of thought then decided to do the strawberry plant with berries and add her name to the top. Come to find out, her spirit name was Strawberry Woman! 

colorful beaded medallion with flowers and the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal logo

Beaded Medallion with Saginaw Chippewa Tribal logo by Glenna Jenkins

black beaded tie with rainbow flowers

Beaded Tie by Glenna Jenkins

The floral work on the tie is done with colors of the rainbow. I done this tie to show support and to honor our two spirit people. People also need to be educated on this issue. When I first started the tie and was sorting through what colors to use for the flowers, I realized the colors I selected represented the rainbow. So I put them in that order. 

colorful, beaded medallion with a 3D butterfly

Beaded 3D Medallion by Glenna Jenkins

Part of the Redspirit Women's motorcycle club (sister club to Redrum).

woman in a jacket and jeans standing in front of a gray brick wall with a mural of a colorful deer and hoofprints on the ground

Digital Painting by Jenny Davis

Painting of women in jumpsuit with deer antlers standing in front of green columns with geometric designs

Digital Painting by Jenny Davis

women in colorful clothes with deer antlers in front of a meteor in space

Digital Painting by Jenny Davis

women with gray hair and deer antlers in a forest with deer

Digital Painting by Jenny Davis

square, brown woven basket

Woven Berry Basket by Ksgooga Gwisgwaasgm Gyemk (Sm'algyax)/Janice Jainga-Lonergan (English) who is Tsimshian, member of the Tsimshian Haayuuk Dance Group, and family of 7 WSU alumni

These are traditional Tsimshian style woven baskets that our ancestors used for gathering food and storage of food year round. 

See more of Janice's work here and contact her through email

2 brown woven baskets and an unfinished diagonal patterned basket in front of a lake

Woven Baskets by Ksgooga (Janice)

brown woven basket with spacing near the rim

Woven Clam Basket by Ksgooga (Janice)

2 woven baskets one of which is brown and the other has a diagonal dyed pattern

Dyed Bark Overlay Basket by Ksgooga (Janice)

woven bracelets and necklaces with beads shown against cedar branches

Cedar Woven Bracelets and Necklaces by Ksgooga (Janice)

These I weave as giveaways for potlatches and feasts. I also create these items for gifts to honor special people in my life and/or for
special occasions in their lives, like graduations, milestone birthdays, etc. I also create some for selling at art shows.

brown and white ravenstail weavings with geometric patterns

Ravenstail Weavings by Ksgooga (Janice)

These are traditional geometric patterns woven of 100% wool in traditional colors of white, black, yellow and blue. 
These woven creations I use to add for family members regalia with the occasional commission jobs upon requests.
This traditional weaving is very important to the Tsimshian, Haida & Tlingit weavers as this artform was almost lost but revived with the help of Cheryl Samuels.

bouquet of woven roses with blue and yellow ribbons and cedar brances

Woven Bouquet by Ksgooga (Janice)

These items I've woven for family members and indigenous members: cedar graduation caps for their high school & college graduation;
cedar roses for weddings, memorial giveaways, mothers' & fathers' day gatherings; cedar rope earrings for special gifts and for purchase at art shows.

brown woven graduation cap

Woven Graduation Cap by Ksgooga (Janice)

colorful beaded pouch with geometric patterns

Beaded Bag by Ksgooga (Janice)

I have created traditional and contemporary beaded items from jewelry to pouches to lanyards, ranging from everyday use to adding to regalia or for memorial giveaways.

hanging earring with purple and red beads and dentalium shells

Dentalium Earrings by Ksgooga (Janice)

These creations are special as the dentalium shells are very precious to west coast indigenous people.  I have created many of these items to honor elders, and others in ceremonial settings to gifts for cultural sharing.  I have these for purchase too at art shows, but dentalium shells are becoming very hard to come by so these creations are very special and valuable. 

stained glass of dark swampland with blue and purple fog and black, bare trees

Stained Glass "Aurora Fantasy" by Diane Leksche

One day I went to our local park called Deerfield.  In the lower swamp area, low and behold, I saw thick fog above the swamp and in it were glowing lights of different colors.  It was from the gas oils of decay floating up and the display was phenomenal.  I had to do it in stained glass. The Aurora Fantasy has an other name added to it and is "Swamp Dance" as I did what I call a Swamp dance.  Like how out west does the Sun dance, I did a Swamp dance two summers ago around the time I made this design. The dance was invigorating and a test that I needed spiritually and physically.  

round, transparent stained glass with a flower surrounded by leaves and flowers

Stained Glass by Diane Leksche

This is the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe logo. "23x23".  I am proud to be a member of the SCIT and wanted to display this logo as seen, the colors, in the tribal news paper.  I used horizontal lines to show mother earth and that Native Americans are more spiritual when staying close to the ground in most ceremonies.

colorful stained glass of abstract flowers

Stained Glass by Diane Leksche

This is a part of a pattern from a 100 year old beaded tablecloth I had made in stained glass in year: 2000.

drawing of a yellow and red abstract flower and a blue butterfly in front of a face with eyes closed

Drawing "City Flower in Bloom" by Diane Leksche

Here is the drawing logo for a non-polluting city, flower, Winaboozu spirit is contented and happy.

small woven basket with a raised blue band

Woven Basket by Diane Leksche

This basket was made at Ziibiwing Museum and Life Ways.  I used the blue stripe in it to represent the lakes of Michigan. It was a very spiritual experience, if you treat the fibers as if they are alive as the tree you took from.  Native Americans believe most everything is animate so the experience of making the basket brought me home to care about it, and to be thankful about the spirits of it.

intricate and colorful stained glass flower with leaves

"Kaleidoscope Facets- Standing Tall Breeze" Stained Glass by Diane Leksche

1.Center: red = women & girls, solid bold blue = police.  These are of equal amounts, depicting respect for the police that is wished upon by indigenous peoples/women, and/or that once upon a time, had.  Smaller, transparent blue depicts, truth of the matter that, police aren’t solving murder and missing cases and don’t care.  According to Journalists [uihi.org, 2018], the reason news medias and police don’t report often enough is, they target victims as criminals, hence prime suspects get away and murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls continue.  Also, light blue toped cylinder shape pink next to cylinder red, = police brutality [uihi.org, 2018].

2.White, semi-clear, glowing color in clusters = women and girls missing, and are encircling a purple dot = prayers to Father Sky, the Creator, about the problem.

3.Orange and yellow fire.  Flames represent prayers to Father Sky, the Creator, with brown = Sema (tobacco) being thrown into the flame center, and side of it, meaning movement into the flames.  Yellow are sparks from what the Sema gives off from being burned and is part of the flame itself.  Purple and lavender = smoke going up to Father Sky, the Creator, to receive their prayers.  As well, depicts what the prayers are about:  purple triangles = knives, yellow = bullets, lavender = other means of murder and doom, and are asking to end police deficiencies, among indigenous people.

4.Prayers answered by way of Journalists = Trumpet flower: Indigenous people crying out for help.  Coming out from the trumpets are, white, semi-clear, glowing color = the missing, dark redish = past murders, red= present murders, to tell journalists these are all ignored by police.

5.Kaleidoscope in title = Politicians (gov) are mirror reflections of falseness for many to ignore the plight of indigenous peoples who have tried to get law enforcement to do their jobs.

6.Freedom for all Americans questioned.

7.Facets in title is the background, clear glass without color, and shapes are that of diamond cuts = Journalists [uihi.org,2018], stone of hope, to get the word out, so that indigenous people can be heard, at a national level to get help.

8.The light green on leaves represent, young or new, 21st century genocide.

9.Breeze in title = Native dance circle, always moves from left to right (clock-wise), but the right leaf is being blown by a breeze from right to left (counter clock-wise).  Backwards in Native dance means something is wrong, or is like the Trickster, Coyote.  This can be depicted due, we are supposed to rely on the police and media for help, not a journalist.  It’s going the other way around!  Equally profound, proving backward government, is that the stem was supposed start from left, the base and grown right, to flower, but unknowingly, the pattern ended up opposite.  To make the flower more rounded for the desired look, I had to twist and shift it from right to left.  In turn, gaps of space between the design appeared. I filled them in with, solid red = native women and girls, and two are small squares.  One is located near a group of the, small, white, glowing, colored clusters.  The other, at the point of the mouth of a trumpet.  A larger, rectangle shaped one has filled in a gap, and is connected to a fire flame, located in front of a purple triangle. These emphasize the troubles Indigenous women and girls are facing today.

10.Little bits of light Turquoise color = the connection of Mother Earth, women-Water Keepers, to Father Sky- Creator.

11.Copper patina solder lines of flower = Three Fires women are traditional Water Keepers praying for the suffering out west. As journalists clarify [uihi.org, 2018], “Out west - Corn Ceremony, the sacredness of women.  Great Lakes region - Deer Woman, white deer sighting has helped”, mandala, present = noncircular, glowing white shapes.

12.Silver patina on solder lines of background = hope of the journalists.

13.Green foliage around flower = medicine

14.Standing Tall in title: Stem and flower itself = indigenous people are standing up because they are worthy of living and they count.  The deceit of the US government can no longer go on.  Natives will have their rights to life and safety.

15.Hanger stand is a table, tipped on its side = failed society here in the USA.

16.The 4 directions symbol is in the write-up.  1-16 sentences and paragraphs = 4x4 as part of prayer, yellow - east, red - south, black - west, white - north. 

17.The overall writing, descriptions, sentences, and paragraphs of this Mandala, add up to the number 17, and can be applied as, The Seven Grandfather Teachings. These are accessible to all walks of life, life guides that may reveal remedial. 

I wanted to add that the flowers frame shape has a resemblance to the shape of “Turtle Island”, which represents the continent of North America.

The kaleidoscope is the jumbled-up deceit of the police, including government/the media including news reports, and the clear diamond cut facets representing truth and hope for justice, that journalists may bring to help end, acts of murder and missing on indigenous women and girls in the USA and all of Turtle Island.

Reference: Missing and Murder Indigenous Women and Girls