Reflections: 2nd Annual Native Women’s Business Summit

On Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 6th I attended the 2nd annual Native Women’s Business Summit organized by Native Women Lead. It was a well-attended event hosted at Isleta Resort and Casino, with panels and activities ranging from how to elevate your business through social media to “smashing the patriarchy,” a panel on how women find success in male-dominated industries. 

This one-of-a-kind summit began with a keynote speech by Kim Smith (Diné), Co-Founder and Editor of Indigenous Goddess Gang. Her speech, “What does a ‘Matrilineal Economy’ look like?” emphasized decolonization, reclaiming Indigenous knowledge, and reconnecting to both tradition and family. Aligning with the summit’s mission,[1] Kim Smith spoke at length about her own journey reclaiming her culture and familial ties, beginning with her educational journey starting at a missionary school and then transitioning to Northern Arizona University (NAU). While at NAU she began to learn the true history of the Diné, revealing that her desire to pursue a career in corporate America directly conflicted with the traditional upbringing. Ultimately, that upbringing encouraged her to come back home, motivating her to understand her own matrilineal economy by “looking for her grandmother,” or reclaiming the knowledge waiting for her back home. Kim Smith completed her speech discussing the current work she does – advocating for Mother Earth and against harmful resource extraction, concluding that “How we treat the land is how we treat ourselves. How we treat the land is how we treat our women.” 

“How we treat the land is how we treat ourselves. How we treat the land is how we treat our women.”

The summit continued through the rest of Friday and concluded on Saturday afternoon. There was a diverse range of panelists and speakers, geared toward women who have either thought of beginning a business, were in the beginning stages of a new business, have had a business for years, and everything else in between. The summit was one-of-a-kind because of the immense care and detail put into planning – in between breakout sessions there were massage therapists waiting in the lobby, “movement breaks” through short yoga sessions, and a designated space called the “Healing Room” for all attendees to enjoy. The many women co-founders behind this event clearly took the time to consider all aspects for a memorable and enjoyable event. Since 2019 is the year following “The Year of the Native Woman,”[2]it was a powerful feeling to have attended such an event and to be in the presence of so many resilient women. I look forward to attending again next year.  


Jordan Oglesby, Diné, is from Shiprock, New Mexico and a 2L at UNM School of Law. She currently serves as Tribal Law Journal Online Content Co-Editor and is the incoming Co-Editor-in-Chief for 2019-2020.  


[1]About Us – Native Women Lead, https://www.nativewomenlead.org/about(last visited Apr. 6, 2019). 

[2]Ruth H. Hopkins, 2018 Is The Year of the Native Woman, But We’ve Always Been Leaders, Huffington Post (Nov. 6, 2018), https://www.huffpost.com/entry/opinion-native-women-midterms_n_5bda07e5e4b019a7ab59e43d.

Photo credit https://www.nativewomenlead.org

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