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New Mexico State University

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Indigenous human rights advocate, acclaimed poet to speak at NMSU

A poet, a scholar and a citizen of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas, Margo Tamez will explore the social themes of indigenous women and their families of Konitsaaiigokiyaa (Big Water People?s Country) in the Texas-Mexico border region during a talk at New Mexico State University on Thursday, Oct. 22.


Black and white head and shoulders of woman wearing colorful beads
Indigenous human rights advocate and poet Margo Tamez will speak at New Mexico State University on Thursday, Oct. 22. (Courtesy photo by Pierre Richard)

Tamez, an assistant professor of indigenous studies at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, is widely sought after as a speaker who stresses the role of local communities and their participation in research as co-producers of knowledge in tackling colonialism, gender violence, environmental racism and environmental injustice in rural and urban indigenous spaces and places.

?History, Memory and Poetics of Being and Belonging in Konitsaaiigokiyaa (Big Water Peoples? Country): What Nde? women and mother-daughter rivering epistemologies teach us? will be presented from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center, room 210. A reception will follow the lecture.
?I believe by sharing Nde? stories of resilience and innovation among new audiences, it is possible to extend bridges between communities and to open paths for much-needed collaboration with, for and alongside indigenous peoples to tackle the vexing societal problems confronting all humanity,? said Tamez. ?I hope my analysis will provide access to Nde? perspectives that the public may not otherwise get exposure to.?

Tamez, who is of Lipan Apache, Jumano Apache, Nahua and Basque heritage, is well known for her work among traditional Rio Grande communities in the Texas-Mexico region. Her writing and research explore social themes that go against the myths, stereotypes and minimization of indigenous peoples, which have created barriers to truth-seeking and repair in U.S. society.

She will share reflections on a decade of research with, by and for the Apache Nde? peoples of Konitsaaiigokiyaa and will discuss the stories and knowledge systems that are being recovered and reclaimed in the shadow of the Texas border wall.

?Dr. Tamez is here to speak about the roles Native women have played in shaping the histories of women at the U.S.-Mexico borderlands,? said Cynthia Bejarano, a Regents Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. ?Although Dr. Tamez is discussing Lipan Apaches in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, her work offers a rich understanding of the identities and cultures of Native peoples along the Rio Grande in the Las Cruces-Juarez-El Paso region.

?Her talk is especially timely, given discussions about militarization of the border and the status of Native populations living in areas divided by the international boundary.?

Tamez? visit to Las Cruces is the result of a class project for Bejarano, in which her students were asked to coordinate bringing a human rights scholar to NMSU.

?It?s both an honor and a responsibility to share some of the key findings of this research completed with and alongside the Nde? Big Water Peoples in Texas, whose customary territory, present-day survival and future existence is intrinsically woven and shaped by the lower Rio Grande River in southern Texas,? Tamez said. ?The Nde? story of survival and persistence is one that is intricately connected to indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of New Mexico and the greater U.S. Southwest and northeastern Mexican states.?

Tamez is the author of critically acclaimed poetry collections ?Alleys and Allies,? ?Wanting? and ?Raven Eye.? Her lecture is sponsored by NMSU?s American Indian Programs, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Women?s Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences Stan Fulton Chair and the Center for Latin American and Border Studies.