The Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections is honoring women this month as a part of Women’s History Month. In this post, we honor Viola Faye Cordova. She was a Jicarilla Apache tribal member, UNM alum, philosopher, and teacher. A symposium is held each year to celebrate Viola’s legacy. This year the 14th Annual Viola Cordova Symposium was held on March 22, 2018.
Access the Viola Cordova Papers at https://rmoa.unm.edu/docviewer.php?docId=nmu1mss741bc.xml. Her biography from the finding aid:
Viola Faye Cordova a philosopher and poet, was born on October 20, 1937 to a Hispanic mother and a Jicarilla Apache father. A native of New Mexico, Cordova was raised in Taos. She attended college in Idaho and New Mexico, becoming interested in Native American philosophy. She earned a B.A from Idaho State University, an M.A from the University of New Mexico in philosophy, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of New Mexico in 1992. Her teaching career spanned several universities including the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, University of New Mexico, Idaho Sate University, Oregon State University and Colorado State University. In addition to Native American philosophies, she taught comparative ethics and belonged to numerous professional organizations.
Throughout her educational and professional career, Viola Cordova published many of her writings. Among them were, How It Is: A Native American Creation Story and Who We Are, a book about Native American identity. In 1995, a series of her lectures was published under the title, Ways of Seeing. Bringing a new perspective to philosophy, her writings and poetry gave voice to Native American beliefs. Despite her death on November 2, 2002, her work continues to serve as an important influence in Native American philosophy.