Women's History Programs

To explore the historical legacies of the passage of the 19th Amendment one hundred years ago, please join us on Thursday, September 24th, 6:30 PM CST for "Women Voted Here Before Columbus: The Haudenosaunee Influence on the Women’s Suffrage Movement."


During this virtual event, Louise Herne, a Bear Clan Matron of the Mohawk Nation and Haudenosaunee Knowledge Guardian, and Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, author of the intersectional anthology The Women’s Suffrage Movement (2019), will discuss the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) influence on early U.S. feminists.


They place the beginning of U.S. women’s rights a thousand years ago at the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy in present-day upstate New York. Women of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy possessed decisive political power, control of their bodies, control of their own property, custody of the children they bore, the power to initiate divorce, satisfying work, and a society generally free of rape and domestic violence.


Herne and Wagner will explore the ways Haudenosaunee women fired the revolutionary vision of early feminists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, by providing them with a model of freedom for women at a time when they experienced few rights.

Please pre-register to attend. 



As a Condoled Bear Clan Matron of the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs, Wa'kerakats:te Louise Herne (above left) has worked for more than a decade to continue the historical and traditional strength of the Haudenosaunee through education and empowerment initiatives.  


One of her most influential societal contributions is her work in promoting the Oheró:kon Rites of Passage ceremony, which helps youth make their transition into adulthood. Reviving the ancient ritual she said, was intended to combat social ills, such as drug abuse and suicide, as well to reconnect youth with their identity as Indigenous people. She also secured grant funding to expand the program to other Haudenosaunee communities across Ontario, and as a result of her efforts, the program earned the 2015 Harvard Kennedy School’s prestigious “Honoring Nations” award for exemplary tribal governance.


In 2016, Ms, Herne was recognized as a Distinguished Scholar in Indigenous Studies by the McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and Learning, making her the first Indigenous woman to receive this honor. 


She is also a founding member of the Konon:kwe Council, a grassroots organization that develops and advances policies that educate and empower the community to end domestic violence in Indigenous communities, through this work, she has mentored and


empowered young women to use their voice and stand in their rightful place of honor within their communities.


In addition to Bear Clan Mother, Herne also serves as Indigenous Knowledge Keeper and Haudenosaunee Knowledge Guardian, helping to preserve traditional culture, traditions and language for future generations. Her professional area of research is the Haudenosaunee women and their influence on early feminism.


She advocates for an education system that is based on “lived experience,” which allows for individual prosperity, but also places value on students’ uniqueness and ancestral history. 


Herne resides on the Akwesasne Reservation with her family Husband Vincent of thirty-three years; six children, Wahesah Danforth, Wentine, Aronhiaies, Tsiehente, Karonhiio and Tsiotenhariio Herne; and eight grandchildren. 


Feminist pioneer Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner (above right) is a nationally recognized lecturer, author and story-teller of woman’s rights history. One of the first women to receive a doctorate in the United States for work in women’s studies (UC Santa Cruz), and a founder of one of the country’s first college women’s studies programs, (CSU Sacramento). Dr. Wagner has taught women’s history for forty-eight years. She currently serves as adjunct faculty in the University Honors Program, Syracuse University and St. John Fisher’s Executive Leadership Program.


Wagner appeared as a “talking head” in Ken Burns’ documentary, “Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony” for which she wrote the accompanying faculty guide for PBS. She was also an historian in films including PBS’s “One Woman, One Vote” and Jak Films “The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones”. Her radio interviews include BBC and NPR’s "All Things Considered” and “Democracy Now.”


The theme of Dr. Wagner’s work has been telling the untold stories. Her new anthology The Women’s Suffrage Movement unfolds a new intersectional look at the 19th century woman’s rights movement. She Who Holds the Sky: Matilda Joslyn Gage (Sky Carrier Press, 2003) reveals a suffragist written out of history because of her stand against the religious right over 100 years ago while Wagner’s Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists (Native Voices, 2001) documents the surprisingly unrecognized authority of native women, which inspired the suffrage movement.


The Jeanette K. Watson Women’s Studies Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities at Syracuse University in 1997, Wagner has been a Visiting Professor at SUNY Plattsburgh, a Research Affiliate of the Women’s Resources and Research Center at the University of California, Davis and a consultant to the National Women’s History Project. She has lectured to thousands at colleges, universities, and schools across the country while keynoting a wide range of conferences and conventions, including NY Women’s Bar Association; Soroptimist International; the American Association of School Administrators, Women Administrator Conference and the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society. 


She has presented to Nebraska and Missouri legislatures as suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton; testified at a congressional hearing on her museum work, served as a Humanities scholar in 17 states, and kept nearly 6,000 students spellbound in assemblies during a K-12 tour of South Dakota schools.  


Wagner’s essays have appeared in publications ranging from U.S.A. Today to the Encyclopedia of American Indian History, to Ms. Magazine and The Journal of Museum Education. The Founder/Director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation and Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue in Fayetteville, New York, Wagner received the Katherine Coffey Award for outstanding service to museology from the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums in 2011. She was named one of “21 Women Leaders for the 21 Century,” by Women’s E-News in 2015.


The KU Bookstore has copies of Wagner's The Women's Suffrage Movement and Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists available for purchase in store at 20% off with a valid KU ID.


Thank you to our co-sponsors:

KU Department of Political Science

KU William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications



Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend University of Kansas sponsored events. If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact KUETCWGE at emilytaylorcenter@ku.edu.


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