Willimantic, Conn – Jessica Danforth, who works for the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, came to Eastern Connecticut State University on Nov. 19 to discuss Native American women’s rights.
Danforth began working at the Native Youth Sexual Health Network at age 16. It is an organization for indigenous youth that works on issues of sexual and reproductive health rights and justice throughout the United States and Canada.
The presentation included information on sexual and reproductive health rights, colonization and the issue of patriarchy, especially among the Indigenous. Danforth quoted Taiaiake Alfred, who said, “There needs to be struggle in order to lay out a path to co-existence; the process of being uncomfortable is essential for non-Indigenous people to move from being enemy, to adversary, to ally.”
Danforth went into detail about the importance of colonization among the Indigenous. She also presented a quote by Patricia Monture: “Understanding how patriarchy operates in the Americas without understanding colonization is a meaningless endeavor from the perspective of Indigenous people. The state of the United States and Canada is the invisible male perpetrator, who, unlike Indigenous men, does not have a victim face.”
“Being Indigenous or being young is not a ‘risk factor.’ Racism, colonization and not having access to culturally safe care are what make our lives unsafe,” said Danforth. “It is up to us to change the story.”