Navajo Women Miners Focus of Conference

Clinic Law Students and Navajo Women MinersUNM clinical law students collaborated to organize the Fourth Annual Changing Woman Conference in Farmington in early April.

The conference was created in 2005 as a partnership between Navajo women coal miners from around Farmington and UNM law students. The goal of the conference was to provide legal resources and other information to help address the racial and gender discrimination and sexual harassment often faced by Navajo women coal miners.

Workshops addressed sexual harassment and gender and racial discrimination in the workplace, maintaining mental and physical health in stressful jobs and labor laws in Indian country. Speakers included University of Arizona Professor Anna O’Leary, who played a key role in a major Phelps Dodge copper strike of 1983-1986 in the Clifton-Morenci area of southern Arizona; Albuquerque labor lawyer Whitney Warner (`98); University of San Diego Professor David Kamper; Dr. Martín Guerrero (`07) and representatives of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Miners and the students worked together to raise funds, recruit speakers and put on the conference, which drew participants from Alabama and California, as well as New Mexico.

"It was extremely rewarding to have the opportunity to work with these remarkable women and provide them with information about their legal rights and options that they otherwise wouldn't have access to," said Kristina Fisher, who helped organize the conference as part of her work in the Business & Tax Clinic.

Organizers also included Aimee Gonzalez from the Business & Tax Clinic, Samantha Ruscavage-Barz from the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, Sarah Gonzales and Maria Martinez from the Community Lawyering Clinic and Connie Quintero from the Law Practice Clinic.

A five-minute documentary about the conference can be viewed online at: