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LaDonna HarrisLaDonna Vita Tabbytite Harris (born 1931) is a Comanche social activist from Oklahoma. She is the founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), is a remarkable statesman and national leader who has enriched the lives of thousands. She has devoted her life to building coalitions that create change. She has been a consistent and ardent advocate on behalf of Tribal America.
Annie Dodge WaunekaAnnie Dodge Wauneka (April 11, 1910 – November 10, 1997) was an influential member of the Navajo Nation as member of the Navajo Nation Council. As a member and three term head of the Council's Health and Welfare Committee, she worked to improve the health and education of the Navajo. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.
Maria Montoya MartinezFew craft artists can claim the worldwide honor and fame bestowed upon Maria Martinez during her lifetime. This modest, traditional, Pueblo woman received honorary degrees from major universities, countless medals and citations from governments and institutions, and special invitations to the White House from four different Presidents. She was one of the most famous craft artists in the world.
Sandra OsawaA member of the Makah Indian Nation in Washington State, Sandra Sunrising Osawa has been an independent producer longer than any other Native American in the country. She was the first Native American independent to produce for commercial television with an information series on Native Americans that aired in 1975 on NBC. She was the recipient of an Outstanding Producer Award for the ten-part series. She currently heads her own production company, Upstream Productions in Seattle.
Pablita VelardePablita Velarde (1918 – 2006) born Tse Tsan (Tewa, "Golden Dawn") was an American painter.
Velarde was born on Santa Clara Pueblo near Española, New Mexico. After the death of her mother when Pablita was about five years old, she and two of her sisters were sent to St Catherine's Indian School in Santa Fe. At the age of fourteen, she was accepted to Dorothy Dunn's Santa Fe Studio Art School. She became one of the most accomplished Native American painters of her generation, with solo exhibitions throughout the United States, including her native New Mexico.
Lillian Sparks RobinsonLillian Sparks, a Lakota woman of the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes, is the Commissioner of the Administration of Native Americans. Miss Sparks was confirmed by the United States Senate as the Commissioner on March 3, 2010, and was sworn in on March 5, 2010. She has devoted her career to supporting the educational pursuits of Native American students, protecting the rights of indigenous people, and empowering tribal communities.
Martha RedboneMartha Redbone is an American blues and soul singer of part Cherokee, Choctaw, European and African-American descent. She has won awards for her contemporary Native American music. Her music is a mix of rhythm and blues, and soul music influences, fused with elements of traditional Native American music.
Rita CoolidgeRita Coolidge (born May 1, 1945) is a recording artist and songwriter. During the 1970s and 1980s, she charted hits on Billboard's pop, country, contemporary and jazz charts and won two Grammy Awards with fellow musician and former husband Kris Kristofferson.
Honoring her Native American heritage (Cherokee), she performed with Robbie Robertson, who is Mohawk, at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
CherCher - born Cherilyn Sarkisian, (May 20, 1946) is an American (her mother is part Cherokee) singer and actress.
In the early 1980s, Cher made her Broadway debut and starred in the film Silkwood, which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983. In the following years, she starred in films such as Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988. At the same time, she established herself as a "serious rock and roller" by releasing platinum albums such as Heart of Stone (1989) and successful singles such as "I Found Someone" and "If I Could Turn Back Time". In the 1990s, she made her directing debut in the film If These Walls Could Talk and released the biggest-selling single of her career, "Believe", which featured the pioneering use of Auto-Tune, also known as the "Cher effect". In the 2000s, she embarked on the successful Living Proof: The Farewell Tour and signed a $60 million per-year deal to headline the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for three years.
Cher has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, among several other honors. Her other ventures have included fashion designing, writing books and managing the film production company Isis. Recognized as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, she has sold more than 100 million solo albums and over 40 million records as Sonny & Cher worldwide. She is the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each of the past six decades.
Buffy Sainte-MarieBuffy Sainte-Marie, (born February 20, 1941) is a Canadian-American Cree singer-songwriter, musician, composer, visual artist, educator, pacifist, and social activist. Throughout her career in all of these areas, her work has focused on issues of Indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her singing and writing repertoire also includes subjects of love, war, religion, and mysticism.
Suzan Shown HarjoSuzan Shown Harjo is a poet, lecturer and devoted advocate for the rights of Native Americans. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Harjo is president of the Morning Star Institute, a DC-based nonprofit lobbying for the return of tribal lands and sovereignty.
Through her work in government and as the head of the National Congress of American Indians and the Morningstar Institute, she has helped preserve a million acres of Indian land; helped develop laws preserving tribal sovereignty; she’s repatriated sacred cultural items to tribes while expanding museums that celebrate Native life… Because of Suzan, more young Native Americans are growing up with pride in their heritage and with faith in their future. And she’s taught all of us that
"Native Values Make Americans Stronger.”
Karen Diver

In early February, 2007, UMD alumna Karen Diver was elected chair of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. In her new position, this 1987 economics graduate now heads a tribal government that employs between 1,600 - 1,800 people and has assets totaling over $300 million. She also serves on the governing body of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, made up of the White Earth, Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Bois Forte, Leech Lake, and Grand Portage bands.
Diver, Fond du Lac’s first woman chair, is prepared for the job. Most recently she served as the director of special projects for the Fond du Lac Reservation and before that, she was the executive director of the YWCA in Duluth. The list of the positions she has held and the boards she has served on is impressive and includes: Arrowhead Welfare Reform Partnership, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, American Indian Community Housing Organization, Duluth Community Action Program, Governor's Workforce Development Council, and the Blandin Foundation.

One significant opportunity, and possibly the event that prepared Diver most for her new position, was her participation as a Bush Foundation Leadership Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. There she received the Master in Public Administration degree in 2003. As a student in the Harvard American Indian Economic Development Project, she studied best practices in governance and economic development in Indian Country.

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