MacArthur Fellow Sarah Deer, widely known as a top legal scholar and advocate for Native American women, will visit UNCG on Tuesday, March 22, to give a lecture on sexual violence and Native women.

The lecture, co-sponsored by UNCG’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Office of Intercultural Engagement, will take place from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Maple Room in the Elliott University Center. The event is free and open to the public.

Head shot of Sarah Deer

Professor Sarah Deer

After the lecture, attendees are invited to the Phillips Room for a reception with light refreshments and an opportunity to meet Deer.

“Professor Deer’s ongoing efforts to empower Native women and Native nations resonate deeply with UNCG’s commitment to opportunity and diversity,” said Dr. Mark Rifkin, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. “Her work draws attention to the ongoing struggle for self-determination by Native peoples, including those here in North Carolina.”

Native women living on reservations suffer one of the highest per capita rates of violent crime in the world. Deer’s lecture will address the ways that sexual violence has affected the lives of Native women and how Native nations can respond to this pattern of violence in ways that challenge sexism and misogyny while strengthening Native sovereignty.

“The United States was founded over top of Native lands, and everyone who lives here participates in some way in this ongoing colonialism,” Rifkin said. “Professor Deer’s work helps explain these current conditions while also providing important ideas about how Natives and non-Natives can work together toward a more just future.”

A citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Deer has worked with grassroots and national organizations attempting to navigate the legal and bureaucratic challenges facing Native victims of violence. Her efforts were instrumental in the passage of two landmark pieces of legislation: The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Deer currently serves as a professor of law and co-director of the Indian Law Program at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minn.

For more information about UNCG’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, visit


Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations