Andrea Smith is an intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Smith’s work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, specifically Native American women. A co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations, Smith centers the experiences of women of color in both her activism and her scholarship.
Smith’s critical work centers on genocide and acts of violence against Native women. She discusses patriarchy as a tool of settler colonial violence used to subdue and eradicate Native women. In her text Conquest: Sexual Violence And American Indian Genocide, Smith gives a genealogical study of state sanctioned violence against Native women and against their reproductive health from early America to the 19th century.
Smith’s work makes a critical intervention in Native American Studies that has a tendency to dismiss patriarchy as outside the purview of analysis of Native scholarship. Most Native scholars dismiss patriarchy because they identify it as a uniquely Western manifestation forced onto Native populations through assimilation. Smith argues that despite the fact that patriarchy is not intrinsic to Native society, its fundamental importance in the domination and extermination of Native peoples and Native women in particular should not be discounted.
"Today, on this International Women’s Day, I celebrate and bow to the women writers who dared to be seen, who dared to be heard, who dared to define their lives for themselves. Without you, I would not and could not exist as a young woman of color writer, adding my voice to the collective chorus singing the experience of marginalized womanhood. I am deeply humbled to be a part of this legacy.” —from my new essay celebrating Womens History Month through the words and works of women of color writers