Dominique Daye Hunter
Welcome to the Indigenous Women In Solidarity Empowered and Rising official website!
We are happy to share with you our first blog post on our new website. Here, we’ll be sharing an introduction about our founding, who we are, our mission, and our upcoming events.
iWISER was founded in January of 2016. However, ideas for the group began with conversations between M. Talia White, Dominique Hunter, and other now-iWISER members almost two years prior. These conversations, were held at closing time at the American Indian Institute at Mesa Community College, over tea and coffee in our homes, and whilst meeting and getting to know women with similar values and visions for themselves, their families, and their communities.
One of the first ideas was an online community that would serve as a hub for women to connect with other ladies in their area if they were in need of a safe ride home as an alternative for hitchhiking, or other situations where calling family or law enforcement was not possible or practical solution.
I began to think more about these conversations and ideas. But I pushed the idea of starting such a group ever more towards the future, after attaining personal goals such as “earning a Bachelor or Master’s degree.” However, as time passed, I saw more and more the vital importance and possibilities of starting the group, even prior to the completion of my professional education.
Thus, on the day of my 24th birthday, I posted the idea publicly for the first time. Outlined on a Facebook post, I set out to establish a group that would support and bring awareness to issues facing Indigenous women without regard to color, background, country origin, or sexual orientation, and bring awareness of solutions to these issues that were practical and proactive, rather than reactive or (although also very important) responsive.
On Sunday, January 17th 2016, ten of us (8 women and 2 children) met at the Burton Bar Library off of Central Avenue in Phoenix. We shared our hearts, laughter, healthy foods, and most of all: a shared vision that encompassed the group myself and others saw for the future.
Since then, iWISER has hosted numerous events including self-love workshops, our laughter is medicine workshop, “Reclaiming Our Sacredness” photoshoot (a campaign to increase the amount of more accurate and less stereotypical images of Native women on the internet and in the public eye), documentary movie nights, book readings, table cloth making workshops, indigenous foods gatherings, cook outs, hikes, and collaboration with Well for Culture for a Mother Earth Gym workout.
We hosted a women’s safe camp at the Oakflat occupation 1 year anniversary in February, fund raised through bake sales and member support to table and provide educational materials and community outreach at the 2016 Mesa Community College Inter-tribal Student Organization powwow, the Pascua Yaqui Spooktacular Domestic Violence Awareness community event in Guadalupe, collaborated with Miss Native American USA at the 2016 Arizona State University Powwow, as well as the Salt River Domestic Violence Advisory Committee at the 2016 Red Mountain Eagle Powwow. We also released the PSA: “Sexual Assault is NOT Our Tradition,”, in collaboration with artist, traditional bear and jingle dress dancer, and public speaker Laura Grizzlypaws, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
In mid-December we were blessed to have our first high school workshop at South Pointe High Schools Centered Spirit class in south Phoenix. In “Love: Self, Family and Community,” students of Pascua Yaqui, O’odham, Mexican, and African American heritage reflected, learned, and presented about traditional female-male balance, and what is means to love and care for one’s self , family and friends, and greater community.
We’ve also attended conferences and trainings such as the “Humanizing Our Response to Violence in Our Communities: Being Inclusive, Coordinated and Accountable” regional training hosted by the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition in the spring and the Native American Women’s Conference with guest speaker Mary Kim Titla at We-Ko-Pa Resort and Conference center in Fort McDowell this fall. iWISER ended this (Gregorian calendar) year and welcomed the Winter season with a Storytelling/Holiday party and also by attending the Winter Solstice Prayer and Meditation circle hosted by Grownup Navajo and DiRTYOGA in late December.
2017 is in the planning, and we are so excited to soon release the upcoming events in store for iWISER and the greater American Indian Phoenix (and soon beyond) community that we serve. Buti Yoga, representation at the 22nd Arizona Tribal Legislative Day, Relationship Restoration workshops, and more fitness, education, and outreach collaborations are in store for this winter and upcoming spring season.
It was a blessed year to join together in solidarity. Our current members range from Arizona to California, North Carolina to North Dakota, New Mexico to New York, Canada to Mexico, and the Philippines to South Africa. We have all gathered to move, work, meet, share, and shake status quos all with the common mission of rising to a level of even greater empowerment for ourselves as Indigenous women, and to restore balance within ourselves, our families, our communities, and all our relations on Hená Amai: Mother Earth and in the Universe.
Thank you for a beautiful year. 2017 here we come!
Dominique Hunter (Saponi/African/Irish/Polish descent),
Cofounder and Lead Facilitator
Dominique (Saponi/African/Irish/Polish descent) is the co-founder of Indigenous Womxn In Solidarity Empowered and Rising and owner of Est. Time Immemorial Clothing.
Dominique is also a poet/spoken word artist, short story writer, and aspiring recreational therapist. She is currently working on her B.S. in Nonprofit Leadership Management with an emphasis in American Indian Studies, and lives in Phoenix, AZ.