Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center records
Scope and Contents
The Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center Records consist of 15 linear ft. dating from 1985 to 2008. Types of materials include correspondence, financial records, legal documents, news clippings, photographs, press releases, publications, studies and reports, and subject files.
The bulk of the records date from 1988 to 2003 and focus on NAWHERC's administration; funding, programs, studies, and work in coalition with other women's health, indigenous rights, environmental stewardship, and women of color organizations.
Major topics found throughout these papers include Native American health and cultural survival, rights of indigenous peoples, alcoholism and other drug dependency problems, abortion and reproductive health, fetal alcohol syndrome, diabetes, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, environmental toxins, sexually-transmitted diseases, and sexual and domestic violence.
The Programs files document important conferences and gatherings sponsored and co-sponsored by NAWHERC, such as the HIV/AIDS Gatherings for Spiritual Leaders and Traditional Healers and the Native Women's Reproductive Rights Coalition which developed the Native Women's Reproductive Rights Agenda, and the Native Women's Leadership Training Program.
There are also a small amounts of RESTRICTED and OVERSIZE materials at the end of the collection.
Programs, Publications, and Studies and Reports files contain copies of final products and some research materials related to NAWHERC's impressive body of community-based research and its wellness publications.
The records give a good sense of NAWHERC's work in coalition with many other organizations through the administrative correspondence and organizations files.
As is often true of modern organizational records, NAWHERC's day-to-day operations and internal processes are less well-documented, though researchers can get a sense of the Center's ongoing activities through meeting notes and staff reports. Proposals and reports to funders and potential funders contain some of the best descriptions of NAWHERC programs.
Researchers should also consult the papers of NAWHERC's Executive Director, Charon Asetoyer.
Dates of Materials
- Creation: 1934 - 2014
- Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Access to audiovisual materials may first require production of research copies. Files on interns and staff which contain recommendations and evaluations are closed to research until January 1, 2037. Digital content is closed until it can be processed.
Conditions Governing Use
The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to NAWHERC's unpublished works; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by NAWHERC, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.
Biographical / Historical
In 1985 Charon Asetoyer, Clarence Rockboy, Everdale Song Hawk, Jackie Rouse, and Lorenzo Dion, a group of Native Americans living on or near the 40,000 acre Yankton Sioux Reservation in southeastern South Dakota, came together to form the Native American Community Board (NACB). NACB's goals are to improve the quality of life by addressing issues of health, education, land and water rights, and economic development of indigenous people. It is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization that is not part of federally supported tribal government. NACB provides awareness of pertinent health issues; promotes community involvement in economic development; promotes better educational systems; coordinates urban, tribal, and state child welfare issues; and engages in activities to promote survival of culture and way of life, working on the local, national and international levels to reach these goals.
At the time of its formation, the unemployment rate on the reservation was eighty-five percent, seventy percent of adults over age forty suffered from diabetes, the infant mortality rate was five times the national average, and life expectancy on the reservation was just forty-five years.
After its 1986 incorporation as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, NACB's first project was "Women and Children in Alcohol," a fetal alcohol syndrome program -- operated out of Asetoyer and Rockboy's basement -- which served to define the direction of the organization's subsequent health work. The project aimed to address, in Charon Asetoyer's words, "fetal alcohol syndrome and all of the residual issues related to it, because you get into children's issues, you get into education, you get into women's issues and needs. And you get into how women were treated who were chemically dependent and how their rights were being violated." (Voices of Feminism oral history, 2006, p. 27)
Inspired by a visit to the National Black Women's Health Project in Atlanta, Georgia, Asetoyer began to imagine a similar facility in her town, Lake Andes, South Dakota, that was more of a center than an office; a physical space where women and children could gather for self-help groups, tutoring, education, and nutrition demonstrations. In 1988 the NACB purchased a house at 810 High Street in Lake Andes and established the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center (NAWHERC). The Center opened its doors in February of that year.
NAWHERC assists women and their families through direct services, public policy advocacy, and coalition building with indigenous women around the world. The Center is noted for its community-based research and publications, which have influenced policies and practices of the Indian Health Service and other agencies.
Under its treaty obligations, the U.S. government is required to provide free health care to all Native Americans living on reservations. This care is delivered via the Indian Health Service (IHS), a division of the U.S. Public Health Service. However, IHS is essentially a crisis care service.
NACB established NAWHERC to provide ongoing comprehensive community health education among Native Americans and to impact policy issues that affect indigenous women nationally and internationally. "The project is designed for women and children, based on a self-help philosophy, promoting individual and group involvement in the betterment of our lives as Native American people." (31 Oct 1988 NAWHERC press release)
NACB serves as the Board of Directors for NAWHERC, setting policy and monitoring its finances. As of 2006, the staff (including interns) numbered fourteen. The Resource Center is the operational headquarters for the majority of NACB's projects. It is funded primarily by private foundations and individual donors.
The first organization to do work on AIDS prevention and awareness in South Dakota, NAWHERC's "wholeness" programs focus on health education and prevention (including AIDS awareness, sexually-transmitted diseases, Ob-Gyn self-help, breast cancer awareness, nutrition, and fetal alcohol syndrome); support services (domestic abuse, Alcoholics Anonymous, and general support); adult learning (typing and computer skills); and child development (skill building, tutoring, computer education, and special needs services).
Early "social change and advocacy" work included conferences, fairs, community action to defeat a proposed landfill, bringing a discrimination case about misuse of federal funding for Native American children, and community gardens. Later NAWHERC worked to bring attention to sterilization abuse, and questioned the efficacy and safety of reproductive technologies such as Norplant and Depo-Provera, particularly as prescribed by the Indian Health Service (HIS).
Conceived as a center for wholeness and a place for promoting and facilitating social change, today NAWHERC gathers information on the health needs of indigenous women in the Aberdeen area of the IHS (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska), provides referral services, runs a domestic violence shelter, and advocates native rights. The Center maintains programs on domestic violence, AIDS prevention, youth services, adult learning, Dakota language and culture, environmental awareness and action, fetal alcohol syndrome, nutrition, and reproductive health and rights.
Beginning in 1989 NAWHERC staff did intensive research and lobbying to maintain services by preventing the IHS from converting the local hospital into an outpatient-only facility. Its staff and interns went on to research and document IHS's reproductive health care, abortion, and sexual assault services and policies.
In 1990 NAWHERC co-sponsored the conference "Empowerment Through Dialogue: Native American Women and Reproductive Rights," which brought together women from eleven tribes to develop the Native Women's Reproductive Rights Agenda, and form of the Native Women's Reproductive Rights Coalition. As part of its AIDS Awareness and Prevention Program, NAWHERC also sponsored HIV/AIDS Gatherings for Spiritual Leaders and Traditional Healers beginning in the early 1990s.
In September of 1991, after a year-long legal battle over zoning, NAWHERC opened a shelter for battered women, a few blocks away from the Resource Center. The Lake Andes Women's Lodge provides women and their children with a safe place to escape domestic violence and sexual assault. Staff studied and also documented management of domestic violence cases in the county criminal justice system and, through its 2005 Domestic Violence Prevention Project, hired a probation officer with specialized training with domestic abuse offenders.
The 1993 Native American Women's Leadership Development Program partnered with two organizations on other reservations to strengthen infrastructure and provide technical assistance and training.
NAWHERC produced a group of studies and reports in the mid-1990s related to environmental issues impacting the local community, such as radon, herbicide and pesticide use, fly-ash contamination, and a proposed landfill.
Other programs include: Youth Services (including the Child Development Program and the Youth Wellness Program); the Adult Learning Program; the Environmental Awareness and Action Project; the Diabetic Nutrition Program; and the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Awareness Program. NAWHERC also provides information about cancer prevention, reproductive health and rights, and educational scholarships. It administers a food pantry, sponsors community health fairs, published a newsletter titled Wicozanni Wowapi Good Health Newsletter (1985-), and later an email newsletter, Indigenous Women's Reproductive Watch (2008-)
Other publications include culturally sensitive nutrition education materials published in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (1990-91), the Indigenous Women's Health Book, Within the Sacred Circle: Reproductive Rights, Environmental Health, Traditional Herbs and Remedies (2003), and a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Curriculum and Workbook for Native American Girls (2003)
For more information see the Center's web site at http://www.nativeshop.org/about-us.html
12.708 linear feet (35 containers)
Language of Materials
Women's health advocacy organization. The Records focus on NAWHERC's administration, funding, programs, studies, and work in coalition with other women's health, indigenous rights, environmental stewardship, and women of color organizations. Major topics found throughout these papers include Native American health and cultural survival, rights of indigenous peoples, alcoholism and other drug dependency problems, abortion and reproductive health, fetal alcohol syndrome, diabetes, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, environmental toxins, sexually-transmitted diseases, and sexual and domestic violence. The Programs files document important conferences and gatherings sponsored and co-sponsored by NAWHERC, such as the HIV/AIDS Gatherings for Spiritual Leaders and Traditional Healers and the Native Women's Reproductive Rights Coalition which developed the Native Women's Reproductive Rights Agenda, and the Native Women's Leadership Training Program. Types of materials include correspondence, financial records, legal documents, news clippings, photographs, press releases, publications, studies and reports, and subject files.
This collection is organized into thirteen series:
- SERIES I. GENERAL, HISTORY, AND PHOTOGRAPHS (1987-2006)
- SERIES II. NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY BOARD (NACB) (1986-2005)
- SERIES III. ADMINISTRATION (1988-2006)
- SERIES IV. FINANCIAL MATERIALS (1987-97)
- SERIES V. LAKE ANDES WOMEN'S LODGE (1990-91)
- SERIES VI. ORGANIZATIONS (1987-2006)
- SERIES VII. PROGRAMS (1987-2005)
- SERIES VIII. PUBLICATIONS (1985-2008)
- SERIES IX. STUDIES AND REPORTS (1988-2005)
- SERIES X. SUBJECT FILES (1979 -2006
- SERIES XI. YANKTON SIOUX TRIBE (1981-2005)
- SERIES XII. RESTRICTED MATERIALS (1990-2005)
- SERIES XIII. OVERSIZE MATERIALS (1984-2005)
This collection has been added to over time in multiple "accessions." An accession is a group of materials received from the same source at approximately the same time.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request access to this digital content.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
NAWHERC's founding Executive Director Charon Asetoyer donated the records of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2006-2007 and 2014.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
This collection is comprised of the following accessions, some of which may not have accession records. Accession numbers: 06S-09, 07S-16, 14S-51. Accessions were received on the following dates: 2006-02-16, 2007-01-20, 2014-07-31.
DLRP = Dakota Language Revitalization Project
DOCIP= Indigenous Peoples' Centre for Documentation
ESF = Eagle Staff Fund, First Nations Development Institute
FAS = Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
FNDI = First Nations Development Institute
Ford Foundation Project = 2-year project to incorporate women of color issues & concerns into local, national, and international population and development agenda, Jun 1993-Jun 1995, also known as "US Women of Color Delegation"
ICPD = International Conference on Population and Development NGO Forum 94, Cairo, Egypt
IHS = Indian Health Service
NACB = Native American Community Board
NAWHERC = Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center
NAYPWP = Native American Young People's Wellness Program
PHS = Public Health Service, US Dept of Health and Human Services
PIPES = People in Prison Entering Sobriety
U.S. Women of Color Delegation [see Ford Foundation Project]
WGIP = Working Group on Indigenous Populations, World Health Organization
WOC = Women of Color
WOCCRHR = Women of Color Coalition for Reproductive Health & Rights (aka Women of Color Coalition)
YAC= Youth Advisory Council of the NAYPWP
YST = Yankton Sioux Tribe
Processed by Maida Goodwin, 2011
The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created.
Between September 2022 and February 2023, Smith College Special Collections renumbered many boxes to eliminate duplicate numbers within collections in order to improve researcher experience. The following changes were made in this collection: Accession 2014-S-0051, Boxes 1-3 renumbered as Boxes 31-33
- Native American Community Board (Yankton Indian Reservation, S.D.) (Organization)
- Asetoyer, Charon, 1951- (Person)
- Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center (Organization)
- Asetoyer, Charon, 1951- (Donor, Person)
Genre / Form
- Financial records
- Grant proposals
- Annual reports
- Abused women -- Services for -- South Dakota
- Electronic records
- Environmental justice
- Family violence -- United States
- Indigenous peoples -- Health and hygiene -- North America
- Indigenous peoples -- South Dakota
- Indigenous peoples -- South Dakota -- Social conditions
- Indigenous women -- Health and hygiene
- Indigenous women -- United States -- Social conditions
- Native American women
- Public health -- United States
- Reproductive and sexual health
- Reproductive health -- South Dakota
- Reproductive rights
- Women's health services
- Finding aid to Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center records
- Finding aid prepared by Maida Goodwin, Ellice Amanna
- 2011, 2020
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Processing of the Native American Women's Health Education Resource Center Records was made possible by the generous support of the Peck Stacpoole Foundation.
- 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (https://github.com/harvard-library/archivesspace-preprocessor)
- 2017-07-26T17:48:19-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
- 2020-04-29: Accession, containers added and finding aid updated
- 2020-07-01: Description added for born-digital content.
- Location of finding aid
Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063