LAWRENCE — A nationally recognized legal advocate for ending violence against Native American women will present “Sovereignty of the Soul: Centering the Voices of Native Women” next week as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities Lecture Series.
Sarah Deer, University of Kansas professor of public affairs & administration and women, gender & sexuality studies, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 1, at The Commons. The event is free and open to the public.
A citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Deer has worked to end violence against women for over 25 years. She began addressing violence against women as an undergraduate student in 1993. She volunteered as a rape crisis advocate while working toward her bachelor's degree in women’s studies and philosophy from KU. She later attended law school with a focus on the unique legal issues facing native rape survivors, and she received her juris doctor with a Tribal Lawyer Certificate from the KU School of Law. Deer’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of tribal law and victims’ rights. Her latest book, "The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America," has received several awards including the Labriola Center’s American Indian National Book Award. Her work on violence against native women has received national recognition from the American Bar Association and the Department of Justice. Deer is also the chief justice for the Prairie Island Indian Community Court of Appeals.
Deer was named a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow in 2014. Her work was instrumental in passing two landmark legislative pieces: The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013. The MacArthur Foundation stated, “With her current focus on building tribal infrastructure and reinvigorating the rich history of Native Americans’ pre-colonial criminal justice systems as a source for contemporary laws and policies, Deer is profoundly reshaping the landscape of support and protection for Native American women.” This year, Deer was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, only the fifth Kansan in history to receive the honor.
Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 180 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including acclaimed author Neil Gaiman, poet Gwendolyn Brooks, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, Siddhartha Mukherjee, and Zadie Smith. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule.