<<<Head Shot of Pam Alfonso>>>

People and Voices:

Pamela Alfonso

Pamela Alfonso (Menominee / Oneida) is an active and prominent member of Chicago’s Native American community. She has worked for the Chicago American Indian Center for several years and continues to advocate city, state and national governments on behalf of issues relevant to Native American issues.

On April 15, 2004, Ms. Alfonso agreed to speak to a class on American Indians in Illinois at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Excerpts of her presentation are below:

Questions for Pamela Alfonso:

Where are you from? (2:48—4:21)

What is your earliest recollection of being confronted with a stereotypical “Indian” identity? (4:22—7:16)

You don’t look “like an Indian”—That is, your appearance does not fit with the stereotypical images of American Indians. How has this affected you throughout your life? (41:31—43:18)

Can you tell us about Chicago’s urban Indian community? (7:16—8:28)

What was it like for you to grow up Native in Chicago? (8:29—10:26)
- <<<Would she share with us a picture of herself during her “Crazy Indian” period?>>>

How did your educational experiences help you? (10:28—12:38)

How did your identity as a Native person and American society’s stereotypical views of “Indians” affect your professional career? (12:52—15:51)

When you went to college, what was your experience like? What did you study? How did it influence your future career plans? (15:52—18:16)

Can you tell us about your work concerning American Indian economic development? And how does economic interests relate to the “Mascot Issue”? (18:16—20:14)

In what ways are you currently active in Chicago’s American Indian community? (35:10—37:40)

You run a tenant’s rights organization now. What got you involved in that field? (20:15—21:34)

Can you tell us about your experiences as a Native American woman? How do traditional indigenous ideas about gender and leadership compare to more familiar Western notions? How do you rationalize these ideas in your own life? (21:46—29:42)

<<<A Screen shot of her presenting to the class (full body with visible students) would go well here>>>

What motivated you to undertake such a community-oriented life? Is it not difficult for you to maintain “traditional” values in a modern corporate and governmental environment? (29:42—32:00)

From where did you derive inspiration to persevere in a world that often seems quite hostile to women in general—and to Native American women in particular? Did you have any role models to follow? What did you learn from them? (43:37—46:20)

What do you think about Native American activism? How does activism today compare to that of the 1970s? (32:01—35:00) <<<link to sit-in???>>>

Do you support Affirmative Action? How do American Indians fit into Affirmative Action programs in Chicago and the rest of Illinois? (37:49—41:03)

Do you have any suggestions for non-Native people who want to learn more about Native American cultures? Are there any books you think are especially helpful? (46:40—49:38)

<<<She mentioned a brochure about what is important to Native people in Illinois…do we have one? Should we put it up in some form?>>>


Back to the Online Essays


   Department of Anthropology
   copyright © 2002 University of Illinois, All rights reserved.
Questions and Comments to Brenda Farnell