2016 Women Who Rock (un)Conference: Connections to History Through Tradition and Arts

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The 6th Annual Women Who Rock (un)Conference will be held on April 7 and 8, 2016 at Heritage University. The annual (un)Conference is participant-driven and centered around issues of gender, race, class and sexuality. Our goal is to expand on “who” counts as women and “what” counts as rock. The (un)Conference includes dialogue about women, music and social justice; small group sessions; tradition and skills sharing workshops; music making; and children’s activities.

This year, Women Who Rock seeks to achieve our goal by focussing on creating opportunities for local, trans-national and trans-temporal through dialogue about Indigeneity, womanhood and maintaining connections to history through traditions. The National Public Radio, Latino USA radio show produced by Maria Hinojosa on the relationship between Latinos and Native Americans on the Yakima Reservation has been a source of inspiration for this conference.

We used the phrase “our heart is happy that you have entered into our district” borrowed from the Toppenish School district which underwent a community process to get words that were represented by voices in Sahaptin, Spanish and English. And truly, we want to welcome you to a dialogue about our traditions, culture and connection to history. Bios coming soon. Information on the big event in a separate post.

Keynote Speakers:

Natividad and Conchita Mendoza:

A mother and daughter team, Natividad and Conchita Mendoza are from the Coachella Valley in California. They are traditional Purepecha women who embroider and create traditional clay art. They have been working with The Alliance of California for Traditional Arts (ACTA), to strengthen and support their community through maintaining connections to their culture. Their work in Yakima will includegiving workshops at Heritage University art classes and with Casa Hogar women’s group.


Dr. Martha Gonzalez:

Martha Gonzalez was born and raised in East Los Angeles and is a Chicana artivista (artist/activist), feminist music theorist and academic. Gonzalez earned a PhD in Feminism from the University of Washington Seattle. In addition, Gonzalez holds an undergraduate degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

Her academic interest in music has been fueled by her own musicianship as a singer and percussionist for East L.A’s Quetzal for the last 17 years. Quetzal has made considerable impact in the Los Angeles Chicano music scene. The unique blend of East Los Angeles sounds as well as the social justice content in the work has sparked dialogue and theoretical work among various artist communities, culture theorists, and scholars across the country, Mexico and Japan. The relevance of Quetzal’s work has been noted in a range of publications from dissertations to scholarly books, most recently Patricia Zavella’s I’m Neither Here Nor There: Mexicans’ Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty (Duke University Press, 2011). As a result, the U.S. Library of Congress and Kennedy Center extended an invitation to perform and speak in September of 2011 as a part of their “Homegrown” music series. The traveling exhibit “American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music” sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, featured Quetzal as leaders and innovators of Chicano music. This feat coupled with their Grammy Award winning album on the Smithsonian Folkways label “Imaginaries” marks the importance of her past and ongoing work. (From marthagonzalez.net/quetzal)

Dr. Gonzalez’s work would be to lead a song-writing workshop with Heritage Students and YVC students. She would also lecture as keynote speaker.



Thursday, April 7th

11:45 am: Yakima Valley Community College workshop with Dr. Martha Gonzalez

6:00 pm: Yakima Valley Museum panel with community members

Friday, April 8th

9:00 am: Breakfast with community members

11:45 am: Heritage University workshop with Dr. Martha Gonzalez

Please join us!