The Wisconsin Women’s Network (WWN) will be honoring longtime civil rights activist Ada Deer for her excellence in advocacy and commitment to advancing the status of women and girls in Wisconsin at their annual Women’s Equality Day event tonight in Madison.
Deer is a well-known advocate for the Native American community — particularly for her home community, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin. She was the first Menominee to earn an undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin. In 1961, she was the first Native American to receive an M.S.W. from the Columbia University School of Social Work. Her work on behalf of the Menominee led to the Menominee Restoration Act of 1972, which officially returned the Menominee Reservation to federally recognized status.
“There is no one more fitting and deserving of the Wisconsin Women’s Network’s ‘Excellence in Advocacy Award’ than Ada Deer,” Wenona Wolf tells Madison365. Wolf is a former board member for WWN and serves on their Equality Planning Day Committee. She nominated Deer for the award. “Throughout Ada’s lifetime, she proved that a Native American woman could do anything — she could raise her voice, help her community, uplift those who needed it, run for office, and so much more. Her passion, her strength, and her persistence have touched the lives of many and helped make our state a better place. Ada Deer is a trailblazer who was fighting for racial and social justice long before many of us were — honoring her is the least we can do.”
In 1993, Deer was the first woman appointed assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. While in office, she helped set federal policy for more than 550 federally recognized tribes.
“Ada Deer has been fighting her whole life for social justice – especially for Native American women and girls – and we are pleased to be honoring her tonight.” Sara Dillivan Graves, president of the WWN. “She is a very strong vocal voice and she encompasses exactly what the Women’s Network is trying to do – get women out there and vocal about the issues in their community.”
The Wisconsin Women’s Network’s goal is to expand conversations and actions to encompass the concerns and challenges faced by women in Wisconsin. They examine intersections within the fight for equality through communication, education, advocacy, and connections; combating racial inequalities, socioeconomic inequalities and gender-identity inequalities.
“Our organization is about 40 years old and we’ve evolved over the years. We work on connecting women through advocacy and education and communication and networking,” Dillivan Graves says. “We host a variety of great programs and events that bring women together to make connections and to get stronger together.”
Deer will receive her award at WWN’s Women’s Equality Day event tonight, from 5-7 p.m. at Robinia Courtyard in Madison.
“It’s going to be fantastic. We will be looking back and commemorating the passage of the 19th amendment allowing women to vote and also acknowledging where it fell short because many of our sisters fell behind in that fight,” Dillivan Graves says. “We will talk to that but also look to the future. We have a panel of young women will be talking about things that they are currently fighting for.
“And, of course, we’ll be honored Ada Deer who is still fighting and still very active and she will bring a few issues to the forefront tonight,” she adds. “We’re really looking forward to it. She is the perfect pick for this award.”
Those wishing to attend or sponsor the event should visit here.