Tewa Women United Named Recipient Of The 2019 Pinon Award

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Española-based nonprofit Tewa Women United (TWU) will receive the Courageous Innovation Award at the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s annual Piñon Awards, to be held October 7, 2019, at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe. This particular award honors an organization that uses a bold approach to solve a persistent problem in the community.

The Santa Fe Community Foundation received 43 nonprofit nominations in four categories. Organizations were nominated by community members with knowledge of the group’s work such as staff, board members, volunteers, and/or clients.  

2019 also marks the 30th anniversary of Tewa Women United, one of the oldest nonprofit organizations in Rio Arriba County. In 1989, a small group of women from the six northern Tewa-speaking pueblos (Tesuque, Nambé, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh) came together to talk about their struggles with domestic violence, addiction, the breakdown of families, and other challenges. As they shared their stories, the women found strength in learning that they weren’t alone, and fortified their courage and voices. Over time, TWU created a space for a Pueblo/Tewa women’s perspective to be forged. The name comes from the Tewa concept wi don gi mu, which translates to “we are one.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “Tewa Women United has a proud history of doing incredible work for Native communities and all of Rio Arriba County. I congratulate them on their impressive thirty years of dedicated service and advocacy, and I look forward to the progress we will continue to make together for the families of New Mexico.”

This fall, TWU is planning a series of events to honor its founding members and look forward to the future, including a benefit event at the Governor’s Mansion in Santa Fe on Monday, October 14 (Indigenous People’s Day). More information is available at http://www.tewawomenunited.org.

TWU is the only independent Native women’s non-profit organization providing direct services, advocacy, and prevention services within the original boundaries of Tewa homelands in what is now the Pojoaque-Española Valley of northern New Mexico. In 2015, TWU received the Chispa Award from the New Mexico Community Foundation, recognizing exceptional nonprofits that accomplish a great deal with few resources. 

TWU’s staff of 14 currently works across three program areas: Environmental Health and Justice, Indigenous Women’s Health and Reproductive Justice, and Women’s Leadership and Economic Freedom. Over the past three decades, the organization has provided services to thousands of individuals and families in Rio Arriba County, both Native and non-Native.

Executive Director Dr. Corrine Sanchez (San Ildefonso Pueblo) noted, “Tewa Women United has always been a social justice organization—that’s been in our mission statement since the very beginning. We’re not only about providing direct services and Band-Aids. We strive to understand how dominance works, how oppression works, and understand the tools that allow us to survive and transform dominance and oppression. The spirit of our work is embodied in the Tewa concept of wo watsi: with our breath is our commitment to live life as a prayer and view life as a cycle, knowing that what we do and give comes back. As Tewah Towah (Tewa peoples), we move in this world with generosity and a life-affirming reciprocity.”

Dr. Patricia Trujillo, Director of Equity and Diversity at Northern New Mexico College and who also serves as a board member for the organization, said, “Working from the premise that Indigenous women have ancestral knowledge that embeds resilience and love into their work, Tewa Women United not only addresses intergenerational trauma, it centers intergenerational healing for New Mexican communities. TWU helps us live healthy, just, and loving lives, and puts the radical Indigenous imagination to work in building communities, creating programs, and protecting the most vulnerable. This is the urgent healing work that northern New Mexico needs right now, and TWU has been doing it for thirty years.”

Tewa Women United (TWU), founded in 1989, is a collective inter-tribal women’s voice in the Tewa homelands of Northern New Mexico. TWU’s mission is to provide a brave space for Indigenous women to uncover the power, strength, and skills they possess to become positive forces for social change in their families and communities. For more information, visit: www.tewawomenunited.org.