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I Saw The Lack Of Indigenous Women In Campaigns

Indigenous Women Rising (IWR) is a reproductive justice collective that centers Indigenous women and communities. There have been too few movements led by us and many times, we are not welcomed to the fray of feminism and politics.

I created this collective 2014 when I saw the lack of Indigenous people being contacted in a campaign to defeat a 20-week abortion ban in Albuquerque in the fall of 2013. This campaign is one of the greatest I have ever worked on and I am forever grateful for the opportunities it opened up for me professionally. However, it cannot be the norm anymore to have one or two token Natives working on a campaign and we cannot have meaningful conversations about politics or justice for marginalized groups if we do not include those who have been left out for so long.

I am passionate about reproductive health and justice because we have policies and administrative rules that dictate how we control our fertility, how families are created, how we care for those families, where our children go to school, and what resources exist to help our families succeed. Everything in our lives is some sort of reproductive health and justice issue, right down to the water we can or cannot drink. This leads me to my passion in politics.

I grew up in a very political family. My parents have worked in government at the tribal and federal levels, they are business owners, and have worked in the nonprofit sector. In short, they have seen it all. They vote in every election because they know that their vote can have an impact on their jobs and the money they bring home to care for their family. We watched every presidential debate and discussed politics at the dinner table. I learned that our whole lives are political and many times, the lives we lead are not as important as others’ lives.

IWR brings reproductive health and justice, politics, and feminism to the forefront. We care about ensuring that young parents have the resources they need to raise their young family and finish school, that women and communities of color have a full range of contraceptive options, that abortion is readily available and affordable, that those who are incarcerated and parenting are treated with dignity and respect, and breastfeeding is seen as a preventative health measure, among a litany of other health concerns in our Indigenous communities. We are currently developing a sex education curriculum with a Native woman-owned business to pilot this year. We launched an abortion fund exclusively for Indigenous peoples in January. On April 29th, we won an award at the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon for our Pueblo-centered project in breastfeeding. I am also doing capacity building with my co-founders to show them how to lobby, assist in managing a bill in our state legislature, and how to build relationships with legislators. We need them, and they need us. It is all political!

I am an Emergista (class of 2017) and for the first time in my life, I see how Indigenous women all over the country are running for office. This drives IWR to not only work on community organizing and reproductive justice but also envision and move the policies that will be implemented to benefit the communities and families that need it most.

Rachael N. Lorenzo is the co-founder of Indigenous Women Rising, a collective that aims to ensure Indigenous Women’s voices are heard and to raise the visibility of Indigenous peoples' rights and Issues.

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