By, Dave Carney, Chief of Interpretation and Education, National Parks Service

On March 11, 2020 Casa Grande Ruins will host Laura Tohe as part of its annual speaker series. The presentation will begin at noon on March 11 featuring Laura Tohe who will present a lecture titled “More than Pocahontas and Squaws: Indigenous Women Coming into Visibility”. This is the final presentation of the 2020 Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Speaker Series.

Laura Tohe is Diné. She is Sleepy Rock clan born for the Bitter Water clan. She holds a Ph.D. in Indigenous American Literature. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Meeting the Spirit of Water, Sister Nations, Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories. Her commissioned libretto, Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio, was performed by the Phoenix Symphony. Her new work, Nahasdzaan in the Glittering World, makes its world premiere in France 2019. She is Professor Emerita with Distinction at Arizona State University and is the Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2015-2019.

This visual presentation shows how Indigenous American women have contributed service to Arizona and the US, yet remain invisible in the media and stereotyped in early films. Nevertheless, they have been honored in all areas of public service—law, medicine, literature, military, education, and activism with awards such as, the Presidential Freedom, the McArthur (genius award), among others. Among some traditional tribal cultures, women’s lives are modeled after female heroes and sacred women who exemplify and express courage and kinship values. Rites of passage celebrate female creativity and the transformative nature of women, hence there was not a need for the concept of feminism. This talk presents cultural aspects of Indigenous culture and how women have contributed in significant ways, not only to their tribal nations, but to contemporary American life.

The Speaker Series is funded by the Friends of Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (http://friendsofcasagranderuins.org/) with additional support from Arizona Humanities (https://azhumanities.org/). The program begins at 12:00 pm in the Casa Grande Ruins visitor center theater at 1100 W Ruins Drive, Coolidge AZ, 85128. There is no fee for the program, and entrance to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is free.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument protects the multi-story Great House and the ruins of other ancient structures built by the people of the Sonoran Desert over 800 years ago.

The monument is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, May through September, and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, October through April, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Independence Day holidays. Directions and additional information are available on the monument’s website, http://www.nps.gov/cagr. You may call (520) 723-3172, or follow us on Facebook by searching for Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.

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