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November 10, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Julia Good Fox

Kate Hart
photo of Julia Good Fox
This week makes it hard to write a catchy tagline, much less hope for an article to get traction online, and I debated whether I should wait for a different time to post. But now more than ever, it's important to raise our voices and support badass women, especially women of color and other marginalized communities. This project will keep going, and I hope you will too.

I've long been inspired Haskell Indian Nations University Dean Julia Good Fox, and I'm honored to share her wisdom today.


Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Julia: I have been in academia for the past 16 years. I started off as faculty in Indigenous and American Indian Studies. About two years ago, I transitioned into administration. Currently, I am the Dean of Natural and Social Sciences at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS. Prior to making the leap into higher ed, I worked as a programmer, as a manager in Public Health, and I also spent time in the mental health field. All of these careers have assisted me in my current role as Dean.

Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)? 

Julia: I still see myself as a writer, even though my writing has slowed down since I went into administration. My public writings focus on cultural studies, politics, and pop culture reviews. My scholarly writings mostly discussed decolonization in Indian Country and the United States

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Julia: Currently, I am exploring relationships and identity—and how these intersect community. So this involves asking myself a lot of questions and doing intentional observation of others. What makes people happy? How do people define and work toward a quality of life that makes sense for them? Why do people engage in bullying? How is resiliency fostered? Empowerment? Much of my job involves “people-work” and so these questions assist me in the everyday challenge of promoting shared purpose. It’s interesting!

Kate: Tell us about a time that you bounced back from failure.

Julia: I have had struggles, especially when I was younger, with depression and anxiety and general low confidence in my abilities. Therapy helped! A personal break-through was when I was in my 20s and realized that I did not have to create my unhappy past—that I could move beyond being stuck in what’s called post-traumatic stress and other dysfunctions that can arise from a violent childhood. The great thing about growing older is that it is now easier for me to get past these moments when they occasionally pop up. Developing a sense of humor is key.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Julia: An immediate one that comes to my mind happened decades ago. I worked at a drug rehab when I was in my late teens and early twenties. One day, I was eating at a restaurant and when I went to pay my tab, the waitress gave me a note that said “You helped me when I was at my lowest. I’ve been in recovery for a year now. The least I can do is pay for your lunch.” That was so moving. It helped me to understand that words and actions do matter in our interactions with others.

Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work? 

Julia: Feminism is awesome! The stories of my Tribe are inspiring. My mother was influential in this regard, too. She was active in the ‘70s Feminism movement, bringing her Pawnee wisdom to the mainstream. I also was fortunate to have teachers, particularly during my elementary school days, who would loan me books about female leaders. They took the time to mentor me, a child at that time. To this day, I am a firm proponent of mentoring. Young women (and men) have so much to offer, and as a Tribal feminist, I believe it’s my responsibility to assist them as they’re charting their way to whatever is their goal.

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Julia: Besides mentoring, friendship is instrumental. When I was growing up, there was so much anti-Indianism then as there is now that sometimes those close to me would engage in lateral violence. I do not want to recreate that. Finding my close circle of ride-or-die women friends has been a salvation. I’m grateful for their support. In return, I do my best to support women in their work and creativity. This can be in the form of a sincere compliment or other show of support, such as buying their books or art.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Julia: Believe in yourself! It was difficult growing up in Oklahoma because my circumstances were mired in by conformity, conservativism, and colonization. Sometimes my only solace was in music or the library, but I would seek it out because these activities would nourish me. I would like to tell all aspiring badasses that nothing is impossible for them to achieve. Just show up, attend to the day-to-day tasks that need to be done, and work to create your dream one step at a time.

Also, develop a thick skin.

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Julia Good Fox is a citizen of the Pawnee Nation, and she was born in Oklahoma. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with her family, two dogs (Sammie and Mrs. Beasley) and two cats (Joe and Bowie). She writes about culture, politics, Indian Country, and the list goes on. Also, she enjoys thinking and reading.

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