April 19, 2002 | By: Aimee D. Heald

South Dakotan and Native American, Ruth Yellow Hawk will address Kentucky Extension Homemakers as they gather at the Galt House in Louisville April 20 through 22 for their annual conference.

Yellow Hawk will fit right into this year’s theme by addressing issues of cultural diversity and how humans connect to the natural world. She spends her career cultivating collective peace and decision making practices she believes will create better communities.

A faculty member for many public policy institutes in the United States, Yellow Hawk has taught at Franklin Pierce College, the University of California - Davis, Oklahoma State University, Ohio University and the Minnesota Humanities Commission. She’s also worked with civic groups from more than 40 countries.

Yellow Hawk will speak at the April 22 breakfast, during a general session of participants and then present two interactive workshops during the regular program. The morning keynote address is titled “Our Spirit is like a River: Native American Issues and concerns in the 21st Century.”

She will give an overview of some of the historical dilemmas that cause present day concerns of Native Americans. She also will share things to consider when working with Native Americans and present a conceptual framework to remember when working with diverse groups. After her speech, the audience will be invited to consider some ways of building effective relationships with Tribal communities.

A workshop titled “Tribal Decision-Making and Peacemaking Processes: The Past is Prologue,” will go through the history of tribal-decision and peacemaking processes. Yellow Hawk will share how these historical processes are being applied to resolve present day conflict and to make informed public policy decisions.

Another workshop, “Native Art in the 21st Century: The Northern Plains art of Jim Yellow Hawk” focuses on her husbands artistry. Jim Yellow Hawk is an internationally acclaimed Lakota/Iroquois artist. Ruth said he is breaking stereotypes of what Native art should be, while celebrating and honoring the rich history of Northern Plains Natives. In this interactive workshop, she will offer opportunities for group interpretation and let the group brainstorm ideas for potential curriculum application that resources Native people, art and Culture. Participants also will have a chance to win a special edition Yellow Hawk print.

Ruth Yellow Hawk is co-vice president of the Center for Restorative Justice, a community-based organization that serves to create resolutions between criminals and victims. She also is co-founder of Borders Breakouts, a group of youth and adults working together to promote respectful dialogue and decision-making. She is a mentor of youth and a coach to professional women and also works as a member of a sustained dialogue on racism in South Dakota.

Of Huron/Wyandot ancestry, Yellow Hawk lives in Black Hills, South Dakota with her husband and their son, Gabriel.