Faculty Fellow Patrisia Gonzales connects people with resources and across Indigenous experiences and histories

Faculty Fellow Patrisia Gonzales connects people with resources and across Indigenous experiences and histories

Thursday, August 20, 2020

“I carry the story of many women’s and peoples in my belly. I carry the stories of women whose children were murdered. I carry the stories of Indigenous women who had to flee their countries or have been killed. I carry the prayers I’ve heard in ceremonies from elders, elder’s guidance, and words of elders encouraging me to move forward. I carry the stories of the human rights violations of Indigenous peoples in diaspora in the US. I carry the accounts of women who had to flee with their daughters due to violence. I carry the climate refugees’ and people’s stories who have had to leave their beloved lands due to policies that have instigated structural violence and transnational exploitation of resources.” – Patrisia Gonzales

Patrisia Gonzales, Associate Professor at the UArizona Mexican American Studies, is the granddaughter of  Kickapoo, Comanche, and Macehual peoples who migrated throughout the present-day United States and Mexico. Patrisia specializes in Indigenous ways of knowing and Indigenous medicine and engages in projects that advocate for Indigenous rights. She collaborates with Indigenous leaders to address how Indigenous peoples may respond to pressing issues of Indigenous rights on the border, including the rights of mobility,  Indigenous language rights for Indigenous peoples in the U.S. immigration system. Patrisia also builds relationships among Indigenous women to strengthen self-determination as a response to gender violence.

Patrisia received a Haury fellowship in 2018. The two-year fellowship helped Patrisia leverage several community projects related to Indigenous language rights, Indigenous women rights, cultural knowledge, and elevating the voices of Indigenous leaders. Patrisia is using her skills as a scholar to guide public, and Indigenous led community-driven knowledge production as a form of Indigenous data sovereignty.

Patrisia co-leads the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders/Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras (AISF) and partnered with International Maya League (IML) to create and disseminate video materials related to COVID in Mayan and other Indigenous languages, including dozens of health-related materials. As a form of intergenerational collaboration, Patrisia worked with graduate students from American Indian Studies and Mexican American Studies to develop a  Land Acknowledgment statement for the AISF. In April 2020, Patrisia co-conducted a workshop for the American Bar Association, Promising Practices for Legal Assistance to Indigenous Children in Detention.

In May of this year, Patrisia and Juanita Cabrera Lopez from IML and Rachel Starks, AIS doctoral student, submitted to the Third Cycle of the 36th Session of the UPR Human Rights Council of the United Nations the report “Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Exist, Self Determination, Language and Due Process in Migration.” The report presents unprecedented data about Indigenous migrants seeking asylum in Tucson, AZ, and proposes recommendations for the human rights crisis facing Indigenous peoples at the border.

With her work, Patrisia is impacting thousands of Indigenous peoples’ lives. Patrisia maximizes AISF’s impact by supporting emerging Indigenous rights advocacy. The Alliance’s projects are enlivening the next generation of Indigenous advocacy.

“It is a small contribution to the entangled context of the people who cross the Southern border, a border that exists within Indigenous territories,” Patrisia said.

Connect with Indigenous Alliance Without Border/Alianza Indigena Sin Fronteras:

Indigenous Alliance Without Borders