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Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Pearl Mankiller (November 18, 1945 – April 6, 2010) was the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served as principal chief for ten years from 1985 to 1995. She is the author of a national-bestselling autobiography, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People and co-authored Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women.
Rose Naranjo
Widely known as a potter, her work treasured, collected, and honored, it is the traditions of pueblo and family that define the life of Santa Clara potter Rose Naranjo. The matriarch of a renowned family of artists, she raised ten children, eight of them born to her, and taught them all pottery making "so they could make a living." Rose saw to it that all her children, in a family that includes noted artists Michael Naranjo, Teresita Naranjo, Rina Swentzell, Jody Folwell, and Nora Naranjo-Morse, went to college. "I didn't have education," she said, "but I knew in the future they would need education. Every one of them got their college degree."
Sgt. Sophie Yazzie
World War II veteran Sgt. Sophie Yazzie, 101, who lives with her daughter in Tucson, Ariz., watches the 71st annual Iwo Jima Flag Raising parade in Sacaton, Ariz. Yazzie served in the Women’s Army Air Corps.
A member of the Woman’s Army Air Force Corp, Yazzie has shown over the past several decades that the two things she most cares about – her family and her pride in being a veteran – are something that she will go out of her way to celebrate.
When she had her 100th birthday, it was celebrated at the Wheatfields Chapter House to accommodate her four children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren as well as the more than 140 friends and community members who wanted to be on hand to celebrate this occasion.
“She’s still active,” said her daughter Kathleen Lampert, adding that although she has to use a walker to get around.
Her mind is still sharp and when she was interviewed by phone, she remembered minute details of her life on the reservation, in boarding school and in the service.
Apache 8
Navajo Female Firefighters
Apache 8 is an all-female firefighting crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
While the Apache consist of several nations—the Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan and Kiowa-Apache—the White Mountain are Western Apaches. They differ in language, culture, and history, but are also closely related to the people of San Carlos, Camp Verde, and Payson.
Destined to become one of the country’s top wildfire-fighting crews, Apache 8 formed in the mid-1970s when there were few other job openings on the reservation and the fire safety department needed people to work. The women “stepped up to the plate” and fought wildland fires in Arizona and throughout the United States for over 30 years (1974 to 2005). Although they were renowned within the firefighting community and the White Mountain-Fort Apache Reservation, they were largely unknown in the mainstream.
Acceptance, however, was not immediately extended to them. After all, they were women—Indian women—who had ventured outside the boundaries of where tradition had assigned them. But they soon laid fears and doubts about their abilities to rest when they proved they could wield chainsaws, cut down trees, thin out areas, and do everything else the job required.
The Fort Shaw Indian Girls
Basketball Team

In 1904 the women’s basketball team at Fort Shaw Indian Boarding School in Montana were world champions.
The young women on the Fort Shaw team came from seven tribes throughout Montana and Idaho. Some of the girls had played shinny or double ball, but had likely never played this new sport. Their first game was against a high school boy’s team in Great Falls. The young ladies rode 40 miles in horse drawn wagons to play that game, winning and actually doubling the score of the boy’s team.
The 1904 World’s Fair was held in St. Louis, Missouri. Fort Shaw Indian School Superintendent Fred C. Campbell arranged for the team and other Fort Shaw students to attend and live in tipis at the Indian Exhibit. They performed dozens of times showing their basketball talent as well as musical talents to raise money for the trip.
Missouri had put together an all-star team—their coach studied Fort Shaw and spent the summer preparing for them. They thought they were ready. It was a best of three series. The score in the first game was 24-2 in favor of Fort Shaw. Missouri requested a several week delay before the second game—the final score of which was 17-6, again in favor of Fort Shaw. They were declared world champions.
Fort Shaw was to close as a boarding school in 1910. The basketball team members went their separate ways, but their story continues to be told. PBS produced a movie called, Playing for the World. In 2004, Happy Jack Feder wrote a book called Shoot, Minnie, Shoot! Another movie was produced with that same title. In 2008, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith produced another book titled Full-Court Quest: The Girls from Fort Shaw Indian School Basketball Champions of the World.

Winona LaDuke
An Anishinaabekwe enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg, Winona LaDuke is a Native American environmentalist, activist, writer, and orator who advocates on issues of climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, food systems, and environmental justice. She co-founded the Native American-led organization, Honor the Earth, that works to raise public awareness and increase financial resources for the Native environmental movement. She lives on the White Earth Ojibwe Reservation in Minnesota where she works to help land-based communities protect their cultures and traditions.
“Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. It is what your ancestors, your old people gave you. Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.”
Mary Golda Ross
The late Mary Golda Ross holds the distinction of being the first Native American female engineer, and her work in the 1950s was crucial to the development of the U.S.'s space program, but her career path was an unlikely one, to say the least.
She was born in 1908 in Park Hill, Oklahoma, and grew up in the Cherokee Nation capital of Talequah. She was obviously adept at math and science, and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics (from Northeastern State Teachers' College) and a master's degree (from Colorado State Teachers' College), and spent nine years teaching math and science in rural Oklahoma. With the start of World War II, she moved to California and was hired in 1942 by Lockheed Martin as a mathematician. During the war, she worked on improving fighter planes, but her dream was to explore the possibilities of interplanetary space travel. After the war, she got her chance; following a stint at UCLA (where she got her engineering certification) she became one of the 40 founding engineers of Lockeed's Skunk Works, where she developed design concepts for interplanetary travel and satellites. She also worked on the design of ballistic misiles, and rockets that were part of the Apollo lunar mission.
Sacajawea
Sacajawea was born about 1790 in what is now the state of Idaho. She was one of the "Snake People," otherwise known as the Shoshone. Her name in Hidatsa was Tsi-ki-ka-wi-as, "Bird Woman. In Shoshone, her name means "Boat Pusher." She was stolen during a raid by a Hidatsa tribe when she was a young girl and taken to their village near what is now Bismark, N. Dakota. Some time afterward the French-Canadian trapper and fur trader, Charbonneau bought Sacajawea and her companion, Otter Woman, as wives. When her husband joined the Lewis and Clark expedition at Fort Mandan in the Dakotas, Sacajawea was about 16 years old and pregnant.
Rhonda Holy Bear
Rhonda Holy Bear was born in South Dakota in 1959. Rhonda is a Lakota doll artist. She has been creating dolls for over 35 years. She spent her formative years on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota and, later, in Chicago. Rhonda would eventually move to the southwest, settling in New Mexico and, most recently, Las Vegas Nevada.
As a youth, Rhonda researched the work of her ancestors in the vaults of the Chicago Field museum. Her meticulous research and artistic gifts would establish Rhonda as a notable leader in her field. Her innovative dolls, a combination of sculpture and traditional techniques, have elevated the prominence of Plains Indian dolls in contemporary Native American art. What were once primarily considered playthings are now highly collectible art figures.
Her work has been prominently displayed in museums and private collections in United States and around the world. Most recently, her work has been featured in Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, the Art Institute of Chicago and Musée Du Quai Branly, Paris France. Rhonda was recently honored in a naming ceremony in her native South Dakota. Her Lakota name is "Wakah Wayuphika Win" (Making with Exceptional Skills Woman).
Eula Pearl Carter Scott
Chickasaw Pilot

Eula Pearl Carter Scott was born on December 9, 1915 in Marlow, Oklahoma to father, George, and mother, Lucy, who was an original enrollee of the Chickasaw Nation. Pearl's colorful life took her from Marlow to the Hall of Fame.
After learning how to drive at the age of 12, she soared to new heights and learned to fly at the age of 13 under legendary aviator Wiley Post. She became the youngest pilot in the United States with her first solo flight on September 12, 1929. She later worked as a stunt pilot where she performed until ending her career to focus on her children and family.
She started a second career with the Chickasaw Nation in 1972, as one of the tribe's first community health representatives after studying at the Desert Willow Indian Training Center in Tucson, Arizona. In 1983, Pearl was elected to the Chickasaw legislature, where she served three terms and helped oversee tremendous growth in tribal operations and services.
Pearl's life is the epitome of independence and equality, both traits evident today in the Chickasaw Nation. This spice for life has been recognized across the nation. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Aviation and Space Hall of Fame, the Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame, the International Women's Air and Space Museum Hall of Fame, and is a charter member of the National Museum of American Indian at the Smithsonian.
Maria Tallchief
Born Elizabeth Marie Tall Chief on January 24, 1925, in Fairfax, Oklahoma, Maria Tallchief was one of the country's leading ballerinas from the 1940s to the '60s. The daughter of an Osage tribe member, she was also a trailblazer for Native Americans in the world of ballet. Tallchief grew up in Los Angeles, California, where she studied ballet for years, working with Ernest Belcher and Bronislava Nijinska.
Zitkala-Sa
Zitkala-Ša (1876–1938) (Dakota: pronounced zitkála-ša, which translates to "Red Bird"), also known by the missionary-given name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, was a Sioux writer, editor, musician, teacher and political activist.

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