Nobel winner, Cherokee chief to speak

By on October 22, 2008

Quinnipiac will be host to both a former Nobel Laureate and the first female in modern history to become chief of a major North American tribe. Rigoberta Menchú Tum, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, will be speaking at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall on Oct. 27. Wilma Mankiller, the former Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation, will be there at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28. Both speakers will be at QU as guests of the Schweitzer Institute.

Menchú received the Nobel Prize for her work in helping the Indian population of the Americas, especially in her native Guatemala. In her earlier years, she struggled against oppression at the hands of Guatemala’s military dictatorship. She lost her mother, father and brother at the hands of the Guatemalan government. Today, she works to increase awareness of human rights violations.

According to the Nobel Foundation’s Web site, Menchú fled Guatemala in 1981. From there, she organized opposition to the Guatemalan government and drew attention to the violation of Indian people’s rights. Her biography I, Rigoberta Menchú, released in 1983, garnered worldwide attention.

Wilma Mankiller became chief in 1985, despite opposition to having a female chief in the Cherokee community. She had been deputy chief, so when the chief resigned, she assumed his position. She was then elected chief in 1987, and served until 1995.

Mankiller will be speaking as part of a conference entitled, “The Declaration of Human Rights 60 Years Later: A Look at Indigenous and Gender Issues.” The conference will begin with a discussion of human rights at 9:30 a.m. The full day event will also feature a discussion on gender issues and violence against women at 11, a presentation on young women murdered on the U.S.-Mexico border at 12:30, and a discussion on indigenous human rights at 2.


About Matt Ciepielowski