Native Women Leaders

Native Women Leaders - Affilia http/

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View Full Document Right Arrow Icon Affilia The online version of this article can be found at: DOI: 10.1177/0886109909331700 2009 24: 120 originally published online 20 February 2009 Affilia Carenlee Barkdull Exploring Intersections of Identity With Native American Women Leaders Published by: can be found at: Affilia Additional services and information for Email Alerts: Subscriptions: Reprints: Permissions: Citations: at UNIV OF GEORGIA LIBRARIES on August 16, 2010 Downloaded from
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120 Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work Volume 24 Number 2 May 2009 120-136 © 2009 SAGE Publications 10.1177/0886109909331700 hosted at Exploring Intersections of Identity With Native American Women Leaders Carenlee Barkdull University of North Dakota How do Native American women in social welfare leadership roles construct their identities as women, indigenous people, and human service professionals, and from what sources do they draw strength to remain resilient in the face of personal and political challenges? From this qualitative study conducted with four Native American women leaders working in a reser- vation community in Colorado, five major themes were identified: (a) knowing “who I am,” (b) turning points, (c) walking in two worlds (biculturalism), (d) call to service, and (e) women are the backbone (gender and matrilineality). The intersections of race, gender, and place are highlighted. Implications for social work research, practice, and education are also explored. Keywords: human services; Native American; social work; women and leadership A few years ago, I was privileged to have the opportunity to know and work with several extraordinary Southern Ute women who worked in various leadership capacities for tribal agencies. The purpose of the 18-month project in which we were engaged was to explore avenues for improving collaboration among child- and family-serving agencies on the reservation. As this work progressed, I became interested in deepening my understand- ing of how these dedicated women described and understood their identities as professional “helpers” and leaders relative to their work and family contexts. Four indigenous women, each of whom held a mid- to upper-level management position in a child- or family-serving tribal agency, agreed to participate. Although the women expressed their willingness to allow me to use their names, political events that occurred on the reservation only a few months after the interviews reinforced my determination to conceal their identities even though a few years have passed; hence, I have used pseudonyms to preserve their anonymity. To help guide my exploration of identity, I used open-ended interviews to allow the four
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