By: By Kristy Carter - Sampson-Independent

CLINTON — Native Americans believe in the strength a woman brings to her tribe and her community, and in an effort to honor that wisdom, the Coharie Tribe will host an annual women’s conference that joins the eight tribes throughout North Carolina.

The 10th annual American Indian Women of Proud Nations Conference will be held Sept. 6-7 at the Sampson County Agri-Exposition Center. This event will lead into the tribe’s annual Pow Wow.

“Since its establishment in 2006, the conference for American Indian Women of Proud Nations has worked diligently to reaffirm native traditions, including a holistic approach to wellness, encourage contemporary artistic expression and empower native women and girls,” said Trudy Locklear, co-chairwoman for the host planning committee. “American Indian women are storytellers of our tribes, from oral traditions to writing to photography to video. They capture images from our everyday life and tribal activities.”

The purpose of the this conference and the American Indian Women of Proud Nations is to incorporate indigenous cultural traditions, language, history and values to build relationships and networks locally, regionally and across the state. The five main areas of focus are education, community, health, spirituality and economic development.

According to Candice Moore, a member of the conference planning committee, the goal of the event is to empower women through a holistic approach to healthy living.

Throughout the conference, Moore said guest speakers will discuss a variety of topics, including the education of young American Indian college and high school students to achieve excellence and embrace the challenges of the 21st century; educate teachers and the public about what is valued in American Indian history and culture; address issues that impact the educational development of American Indian children; understand the complexity of American Indian community problems; increase the self-efficacy of American Indian women as agents in charge in the educational, entrepreneurial and political arenas; and address holistic needs.

Three guest speakers are scheduled, as well as workshop presentations involving holistic medicine for the mind, body and soul. Guest speakers are Amy Locklear Hertel, a member of the Coharie Tribe, and current chief of staff for the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Dr. Susan Faircloth, also a member of the Coharie Tribe, and the director of the School of Education at Colorado State University; and Mary Kim Titla, a San Carlos Apache, and executive director for the United National Indian Tribal Youth.

Hertel is from Fayetteville and is an enrolled member of both the Coharie and Lumbee tribes. Faircloth is from Clinton and was a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the UNC Wilmington before joining the staff at Colorado State University. Titla is a public relations consultant, motivational speaker, freelance journalist and publisher of Native Youth Magazine.com, an award winning e-magazine that showcases the talents and lifestyles of Native youth in the U.S. and Canada.

Past conferences have been held at Wake Forest University, UNC Pembroke, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel, the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley and at the tribal center of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of Hollister.

Registration for this year’s conference can be done online at aiwpn.org. The deadline for early registration, with discounted rates, is Wednesday. Registration forms and checks can be mailed to the American Indian Women of Proud National, c/o Lana Dial, 4216 Loch Harbour Lane, Raleigh, NC 27606.

By Kristy Carter

Sampson-Independent