Taté Walker is a Lakota storyteller, feminist activist, blogger, photographer, and social services professional who promotes cultural competency and inclusion for professionals in the workplace. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English-Communications from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., in 2004, and her Masters of Science in Administration from the University of South Dakota in 2013.
Her experience includes more than 12 years as a professional multimedia journalist. She is the editor of Native Peoples magazine, which provides an international audience with fair and accurate representations of Indigenous perspectives and experiences in ways that educate, entertain and empower through journalistic storytelling.
She also spent eight years within the social services sector in the fields of juvenile justice, civil rights, and youth and family advocacy. This, combined with her personal, professional and academic research in the areas of Native American identity and stereotypes, poverty, health, and sexuality, make Taté a dynamic and powerful speaker.
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Book Taté Now!
To arrange to have Taté speak at your event, please complete this form here and we will be in touch soon. Her presentations include:
- Gender & Sexuality in Native American Cultures – Many Native American nations recognized non-binary definitions of gender and sexuality. This training details the history, stories, and language used by several prominent tribes. The Lakota language (both spoken and physical) distinguishes relationships among males, females, and two spirits. In addition, each gender role played a part in the development and maintenance of families, communities, and spirituality. Participants of this training will learn the basics of these gender roles, the part each role played, how those roles are experienced today, and how to strengthen service models when working with Native youth and families.
- The Role of Women in Native American Societies from 1492 to Today – With the arrival of Europeans came the arrival of misogynistic perspective in the Americas. Participants will learn how, in general, Native women held property, could enter marriage and divorce by choice, choose their roles in society, and more. As the colonial mindset and land takeover spread, Native Americans were forced to revisit gender roles and some even lost their progressive practices as new (often backward) laws swept the land. Still, the strength of women in tribal communities remains solid, and is often the foundation to which modern movements stand upon, whether we’re talking the environment, mascots, education, or culture revitalization.
- Surviving Love: Promoting Awareness & Prevention of Violence Against Indigenous Women – When it comes to experiencing violence, the odds are not in favor of Native American women: The murder rate for Native women in the United States is 10 times the national average; 1 in 3 Native women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime; and domestic violence rates are seven times higher for Natives than women from other demographics. This presentation provides context to these (and other) numbers from cultural, historical, systemic, and gender-based viewpoints. Participants will come away understanding colonial violence and the importance of raising awareness, in addition to being provided concrete ways to help raise awareness for and combat violence against indigenous women, including social media accounts and hashtags to follow for up-to-date information on events and discussions.
- 566: An Introduction to Native American Cultural Competency – Today there are 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States. What does that mean? How should public and private service providers interact with this very specific demographic to ensure stereotypes and other harmful messaging are addressed appropriately and respectfully? This program aims to provide participants with useful tools to interact with Native American clients from across the country. We’ll discuss the differences among Natives living on reservations vs. urban areas, the negative statistics plaguing the mainstream concept of what it is to be Native (poor, alcoholic, under-educated, over-imprisoned, etc.), and the modern movements putting Natives in the mainstream spotlight. We’ll also look at several local/regional service providers participants can access to learn more about Natives in their community.
- Not Your Tonto: Native American Representations in Media – This presentation discusses the appropriation of Native American identity and culture. Participants will look specifically at how Hollywood has shaped and continues to shape the image and ideal of what it is to be Native American yesterday and today, and how that image has been co-opted by sports teams, celebrities, musicians, fashion moguls, authors, and more. Breaking down these stereotypes, from the savagely male warrior to the hyper-sexualized Indian maiden, is tantamount to moving forward, which must be done with care and respect to the 550+ living and breathing Native nations struggling to keep their communities and culture intact in the face of hipster headdresses, Tonto, Tiger Lily, and Redskins.
- The Harm of Indian Mascots on Native American Youth – Debated since the mid-1900s, the subject of Indian mascots across all levels of academics and athletics is a truly divisive issue. Many schools, teams, and states have retired, replaced, and banned Indian mascots, while others hold strongly to tradition. Participants of this training will learn why Indian mascots are racist and harmful, recent litigation concerning mascots, and how to accurately discuss the issue with youth and adults. Participants will leave the training armed with resources to encourage the Native youth and families they work with and live alongside to become more engaged in the effort to retire Indian mascots.
- Not Your Cliché: A Look at the Stereotypes Plaguing Tribal Communities – When we think about Native Americans, several words or images float to the surface: Poverty, alcoholism, suicide, incarceration, uneducated, freeloader, tax-evader, Indian giver and more. How do we know this? Predictive search algorithms on engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing can tell us what people are searching for when it comes to Native Americans. Why are those stereotypes so prevalent? This presentation takes several of the most common stereotypes plaguing tribal communities, looks at myths and truths therein, and offers resources to service providers and allies alike to make changes in tribal communities to move beyond banality.
- Columbus, the Discovery Myth, and the Importance of Teaching Indigenous Histories – For Native Americans and other indigenous cultures of North America, Christopher Columbus represents something of a joke (at his best) and something of a nightmare (at his worst). The impact of his accidental landing and subsequent exploration of this land is linked to the eventual deaths of millions of indigenous people. He is not an admired part of Native American history. While the rest of America celebrates Columbus on the second Monday in October, South Dakota has the unique distinction of being the only state to celebrate Native American Day instead; other major cities, including Minneapolis and Seattle, have followed suit. In-depth analysis of pre- and post-Columbus indigenous life, and the controversies surrounding Columbus Day/Native American Day celebrations nationwide will be presented to participants of this training. Attendees will be given easy-to-use guides to use with youth and families to discuss how to honor both this country’s founding, and its first inhabitants.
- Moving Past the Thanksgiving Fairytale – Despite decades of scientific and historical evidence to the contrary, Thanksgiving continues to be celebrated at schools as a fantastical feast of peace and friendship among the Pilgrims and local tribes. While it’s true a feast was had, its foundation is much less shiny and appealing, and its history and celebration serves as a negative reminder to many Native Americans that our lives are interesting only in the context of colonial fabrication and classroom construction paper. Professionals working with Native youth and families often encounter anger and disenchantment during this and other holidays. However, using traditional Lakota practices, Thanksgiving can still be celebrated in a historically accurate, and positive and uplifting way. Participants of this training will learn the history of Thanksgiving, why the imagery used by companies and primary educators today in marketing the holiday is offensive to many Native Americans, and how to incorporate indigenous perspective, traditions, and spirituality into holiday celebrations.
- Remembering Sand Creek, Wounded Knee & The Dakota 38 – The winter holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is often a time of relived trauma for Native Americans in the Midwest regions. Particularly for the tribal people of South Dakota, December is a month of loss and sadness, culminating around Christmas time when two major harrowing events occurred. On Dec. 26, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed off on the largest one-day mass execution in American history when 38 Dakota men were hanged for their part in the US-Dakota War. Then, on Dec. 29, 1890, the US Cavalry opened fire on Big Foot’s group of starving, freezing people, killing at least 150 women, children, and elders. These events – alongside others – continue to haunt and affect Natives today in what many call historical PTSD. Still, there are many ways modern Natives honor those killed and the memory of what was fought for. Participants of this training will receive historical overviews of these events, as well as learn ways to ally themselves with Native clients as they heal and move forward with their treatment plans.
- Modern Impacts of Indian Boarding Schools – For nearly 100 years, from 1879 to 1972, generations of Native youth were forcibly removed from their families and assimilated at federally or religiously run boarding schools where the reigning motto was to “Kill the Indian… Save the man.” Participants of this training will learn how boarding schools operated and for what purpose, how boarding schools severely abused the cultural and spiritual psyche of Native people, how progress is being made at modern Native boarding schools, and what professionals working with Native youth and families can learn from both good and bad boarding school practices.
- Delivering Culturally Competent Health Care – Western medicine is based on Western ideals of wellness with little room for indigenous or traditional healing remedies. Many tribal people, for instance, perceive health as a holistic entity – not just how you feel physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Participants of this program will (1) consider how cultural competence is necessary to deliver appropriate patient care; (2) become aware of how effective health care considers the cultural traditions, beliefs, and behaviors of the patient; and (3) develop an awareness of the barriers to access of care for minority populations. With this knowledge, participants can create cultural competency plans to take back to their employers or health care centers to encourage inclusive wellness practices that will increase not only job satisfaction, but overall health of patients/clients.
- Teaching Native American Crafts for Youth – Schools out for summer, and that means bored kids. This presentation is geared toward educators to help stimulate young indigenous minds. Participants of this training will learn how to make (and teach making) smudge sticks, dream catchers, godseyes, and more. Special focus will be dedicated to working and connecting with at-risk Native youth by incorporating important cultural and spiritual affirmations into these crafts (i.e. the stories/reasons behind why a certain color, shape, or pattern is used).
- Reclaiming the Culture in ‘Pop Culture’: This presentation discusses the appropriation of Native American identities and cultures within pop culture. Participants will look specifically at how pop culture has shaped and continues to shape the image and ideal of what it is to be Native American, and discuss how that image has been co-opted by governments (holidays), sports teams, celebrities, musicians, fashion moguls, authors, news media and more to the detriment of Natives, especially young people. Deconstructing these stereotypes, from the savagely male warrior to the hypersexualized Indian maiden, is tantamount to moving forward, which must be done with care and respect to the 560+ living and breathing Native nations struggling to keep their communities and culture intact. This presentation will focus on what’s needed to fix the problem, as well as highlight who’s doing representation right.
Presentations Specific to the Oceti Sakowin:
Oceti Sakowin is the Seven Council Fires of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people, often mistakenly referred to as “Sioux.”
- The Life & Times of the Oceti Sakowin – The Seven Council Fires of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people are often referred to as the “Sioux” or “The Great Sioux Nation.” This presentation discuss not only why the term “Sioux” is wrong (and offensive), but participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the complexities of this nation that is often harmfully stereotyped by Hollywood, mass media, fashion, and New Agers.
- Oceti Sakowin Family Structure – Western societies are dominated by nuclear family constructs, wherein independence and self-promotion are valued over collective group benefits. For traditional Lakota people, the tiospaye (loosely defined as ‘extended family’) was of the utmost importance; when actions are taken with the group in mind, survival (of group, group culture, group values, etc.) is guaranteed. While many modern Lakota people continue to live within a tiospaye dynamic, many experts agree the breakdown of Lakota tiospaye has resulted in higher instances of risky behaviors from Lakota youth. Participants of this training will receive an overview of Lakota tiospaye, including family interaction, lineage, the benefits/drawbacks of living in a collectivist society, and how/when the tiospaye breakdown occurred. This training focuses on how the tiospaye (or lack thereof) influences family and youth behavior today, as well as practical ways professionals can interact with youth and adults who live in and/or value the traditional Lakota family structure.
- Oceti Sakowin Spirituality: To be Lakota is to inhabit a multi-layered identity. It describes one’s ethnicity, culture, political status, and spirituality. These aspects are inherent when one characterizes themselves as “Lakota.” This training focuses on the spiritual foundation upon which traditional and many modern Lakota people live. Participants will be walked through the basic tenants of the Medicine Wheel, as well as given the opportunity to tangibly experience the four primary spiritual herbal elements: Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, and Tobacco. This training is particularly relevant in the age of hipster/New Age religious experimentation, which often lumps in specific Lakota spiritual
- South Dakota Reservations: Raise your hand if you can identify the proper names of the Indian reservations in South Dakota. Raise your hand if you can identify the proper names of the federally recognized tribes in South Dakota. What about their capitols? If that introduction lost you a bit, don’t worry. It loses everyone – even Natives! While many Americans (Native and non-Native alike) can list a majority, if not all of the U.S. states and capitols, those same people generally stare blankly when asked to identity tribes and reservations. This training details the history of reservations, their impact in South Dakota, and how to properly identify these sovereign land bases.
- Oceti Sakowin Rites & Ceremony – Like any major religion, Lakota spirituality is tethered to Earth by sacred rites or ceremonies marking major life milestones, including birth, death, marriage, puberty, relatives, and prayer. Participants of this training will receive an overview of all seven Lakota rites, in addition to in-depth analysis of the three major ceremonies regularly practiced today: Inipi, Sun Dance, and Vision Quest.
- Oceti Sakowin Origins & Histories – The origin of Lakota people is tied directly to South Dakota. Participants of this training will learn the Lakota creation story, how the Lakota ascended to Earth, and how ongoing and recent land litigation is tied directly back to Lakota existence.
All topics can be adapted to be presentations, keynote speeches, or workshops and can be tailored to the audience.
If you don’t see a topic that quite meets your needs but think we can cover it, just let us know. We are also willing to create a signature talk or workshop for groups.
Past Presentations Include:
- Surviving Love: Promoting Awareness & Prevention of Violence Against Indigenous Women, Hamline University, April 2016.
- Surviving Love: Promoting Awareness & Prevention of Violence Against Indigenous Women, Cornell College, March 2016.
- Role of Women in Native American Societies 1492-Today, Colby College, March 2016.
- Gender & Sexuality in Native American Cultures, University of Akron, October 2015.
- LGBTQI2A+ Awareness, CPCD Head Start, Colorado Springs, CO, Nov. 2014
- Crazy Horse Project, Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, Oct., 2014
- Social Media Activism in Indian Country, Native American Journalists Association, June 2014
- Native American Gender & Sexuality, PFLAG, Sioux Falls, SD, Nov. 2013
- Lakota Cultural Competency, Wells Fargo (Employee Training), Sioux Falls, SD, Nov. 2013
- PFLAG Conference (Two Spirit Panelist), Sioux Falls, SD, Sept. 2013
- Summer Bridge Program for Native American Students (Lakota Culture Presenter), Dakota State University, Aug. 2013
- Two Spirits, Diversity Symposium, University of South Dakota, April 2013
- Great Plains Emerging Tribal Writer, South Dakota State University Great Plains Writers’ Conference, Brookings, SD, March 2013
- Native American Monthly Competency Series (Various Topics), Volunteers of America Dakotas, Sioux Falls, SD, March 2012-Dec. 2013
- Exploring Forces that Support Systemic Oppression, Sioux Falls Annual Diversity Conference, SD, Nov. 2012
- Diversity in Religion (Lakota Panelist), Sioux Falls Annual Diversity Conference, SD, Nov. 2012
- Service Learning: Math Curriculum That Incorporates Native American Culture, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD, March 2012
- Diversity Series (Race, Class, and Gender), Dakota State University, Fall 2011-Spring 2012
- Cultural Diversity For Medical Students (Native American Panelist), University of South Dakota, Spring Semester 2010, 2011, and 2012
What Others Have To Say About Taté
I’ve had the honor of seeing Taté speak and give workshops a number of times and was consistently very impressed. She conveys warmth and friendliness while talking about very difficult issues of social justice. Her optimism and good nature shine through, which seems to keep people grounded during her presentations. Taté is very knowledgeable about social justice issues and quick on her feet, so she can diffuse any tense situations that can come up and turn them into positive, teachable moments in a comfortable, natural manner. One of the things I most admire about Taté is her ability to teach people only as much as they can handle – which builds on her ability to read the audience so she knows how much they can handle. I would recommend her to anyone as an absolutely excellent speaker!
– Clara Jacob, Paulsen
Taté spoke a large group of high school students for our Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in March of 2013. This was held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and the youth were from the community and the eastern part of the state. She was well received by the youth and their advisors. She received high remarks and positive feedback from them. I thought her presentation was fantastic and we would love to have her back again. I would highly recommended her speaking for you.
– Nicole Burger, Volunteers of America, Dakota
“I attended the 11:00 AM session of the Lakota Competency 101, and I definitely had my eyes opened. Thank you so much for coming in and educating us with more knowledge of the natives to this country. The only education I really every had on Native Americans is that in which I learn in school, and yes the story is very different than the side I heard today. There are so many discriminating stereotypes out there for the Native Americans, which I feel have skewed my view on Natives growing up. Thank you for opening my eyes and seeing history from a different angle today, I definitely want to learn more and look forward to the video tomorrow.
– Karrisa R., Wells Fargo
“Saw you speak today and WOW! You were funny and touching. I was so inspired by you.”
– Pam G., PFLAG
Taté spoke at a PFLAG conference I organized on religion and how it related to and/or affected members of the LGBT community. She was on a panel of four experts from our community — each representing a different religious background. The panel members took questions at random from conference attendees, with no preparation or idea of what the questions might be. Tate’s answers were thoughtful, thorough and delivered impeccably. Her responses were often given with a degree of wit that kept everyone engaged and smiling!
– Terri Carlson, PFLAG Director, Northern Plains PFLAG