Iroquois influence on Women’s Rights topic Thursday at MVCC

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner

The public is invited to a free lecture on "The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Influence on Women’s Rights" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on Rome’s 1101 Floyd Ave. campus of Mohawk Valley Community College.

Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner, a nationally-recognized lecturer, author, and performance-interpreter of women’s rights history, will speak in the Festine Auditorium of the Plumley Complex.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Alpha Chi and Nu Chapters of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international educators’ society. It is part of the Speakers in the Humanities program of the New York Council for the Humanities, and is made possible through the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State Legislature, and funds from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

While most New Yorkers are aware of the 19th-century women’s rights activities of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the influence of native American women on the movement is lesser known. Iroquois women had "a superior status in their society," she explains.

Even before Columbus’ arrival in 1492, the Iroquois women were choosing their own political representatives and removing those who did not address the wishes and needs of their people.

Dr. Wagner is the executive director of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center and a member of the adjunct faculty in the Honors Program at Syracuse University.

Gage, born in Cicero, and later a resident of Fayetteville, has been called "the forgotten suffragist." She was a leader in the National Woman Suffrage Association, serving in various offices of the association and helping to organize the Virginia and New York suffrage associations. She was inspired by the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy’s form of government, where women’s status was almost equal to men’s. The Wolf Clan of the Mohawk Nation adopted her and gave her the name "Sky Carrier."

Gage’s views had an influence on her son-in-law, author L. Frank Baum, who wrote the 24 Oz books, which reflect autopian feminist vision.

The center is in Gage’s former home at 210 E. Genesse St., Fayetteville.

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