MINNEAPOLIS - When Susan Masten
first campaigned to lead California's Yurok tribe, she
was up against five men.
One told her she
wasn't qualified because she
was still "playing with Barbie dolls."
"No one would make that kind of remark about a tribal male," Masten
lost that race, Masten
went on to victory in 1997.
never forgot the insult.
Since then, Masten
been intent on helping American Indian women establish their own network, supporting each other for jobs, working to get each other elected, even buying goods and services from each other.
Last year, when her term as chairwoman expired, she founded the group Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, which begins a national, three-day conference in Minneapolis Thursday.
Masten, who is past president of the National Congress of American Indians, said she hopes the women at the conference will learn to back each other up when they run into trouble.
recalled talking several years ago with a male tribal leader and several women.
When one of the women criticized the man, another man in the tribe approached them.
"The male came up and said, 'You're not going to talk about him that way, he
works very hard and he
doesn't deserve for anyone to say anything about it,'" Masten
said that's what she
wants to have happen with women someday.
"We're the ones who give life, and we're the ones who have a vision for creating a better place for our children," Masten