Event Calendar
Native American Women: Issues, Identity and Culture

Indigenous Voice Series

Native American Women: Issues, Identity and Culture

Join us at the Pequot Museum on Saturday, November 2nd from 5 – 6 pm for the 2019 Indigenous Voices Series panel discussion - Contemporary Indigenous Women: The Workplace and Beyond.

This panel will be a lively discussion with some of the Northeast’s premier Native American scholars, professionals and academics, with a special focus on Native women in professional spaces. We aim to discuss how people’s multiple independent identities can converge and what kind of an effect that can have on one’s work. Panelists will be asked a series of questions regarding their experiences, ambitions, challenges and achievements in their respective fields.

Finally, the evening will conclude with a question & answer segment where the audience will have an opportunity to ask the panelists relevant questions.

Free and open to the public.


Marissa Turnbull (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation) – Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) and the appointed NAGPRA specialist for the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribe. Marissa is charged with preserving, promoting and protecting culturally significant sites within the aboriginal territory of the Mashantucket Western Pequot Tribe, repatriating Mashantucket Pequot human remains and sacred objects, maintaining and protecting Mashantucket Pequot cemeteries, and assisting the Tribal Nation in better understanding Tribal, Federal, and State cultural resource management and historic preservation policy.

endawnis Spears (Diné, Ojibwe, Chickasaw, Choctaw) – Director of Outreach and Programming and founding member of the Akomawt Educational Initiative, an Indigenous education support service and interpretive consultancy. Endawnis is impassioned about the diverse and complex intersections of Native American narratives and museums. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Denver and will complete her Master’s degree also in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst next year. endawnis has worked for the Heard Museum, the Museum of Northern Arizona, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma, the Narragansett Indian Tribe and was a Peabody Essex Museum Native American Arts and Culture Fellow. Originally from Camp Verde, Arizona, she lives in Rhode Island with her husband Cassius Spears Jr., and their four children, Nizhoni, Sowaniu, Giizhig, and Tishominko.

Ron Welburn (Gingaskin Cherokee, Assateague, Lenape) – Former Professor at UMass Amherst, focuses on Native American and Eastern Native literatures, ethnohistories and identities, American and Indigenous studies theories and methods, and jazz studies in global context. Ron holds degrees from Lincoln U (PA), Arizona, and NYU’s Program in American Civilization. Ron served as director of the UMass Amherst’s American Studies Graduate Concentration, and co-founded and directed the Certificate Program in Native American Indian Studies (Anthropology). He has led teacher workshops and book discussions for the Five College Public School Partnership, state arts and humanities councils in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, and for the Mashantucket Pequot Library and Research Center. His book reviews have appeared in CHOICE, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and elsewhere. Ron also reviewed jazz recordings for JazzTimes and Down Beat, and coordinated the Jazz Oral History Project at Rutgers Newark’s Institute of Jazz Studies. A widely published poet, he has seven books to his credit.

Tawnii N. Cooper-Smith, Esq. (Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation) – Senior Legal Counsel in the Office of Legal Counsel for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Tawnii focuses her practice on liquor regulatory compliance, labor and employment, commercial litigation, and federal Indian law issues. She is a proud Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Member and serves her nation on the MPTN Judicial Committee, MPTN Finance Committee, MPTN Election Team and MPTN Constitutional Review Team.