Articles written by K.b. Schaller


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  • Sherry Pocknett, Chef

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Sep 15, 2023

    Mashpee Wampanoag of Massachusetts tribal member Sherry Pocknett was recently honored as one of over 20 other semifinalists from the six New England states. And Pocknett would go on to win the coveted James Beard award for Best Chef of the northeastern U.S.-the first Native American woman ever to win the honor. Nicknamed the "Academy Awards of the food world," the James Beard award is the highest honor in the U.S. food industry. It is also considered to be among the country's...

  • Ramona Lynn Sakiestewa, b. 1948

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jul 14, 2023

    Ramona Lynn Sakiestewa was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to a Hopi father and a mother of Irish-English-German descent. She attended Verde Valley School in Sedona, Arizona, and Santa Fe Prep, Santa Fe, New Mexico. As her interest in weaving grew, Ramona taught herself to weave through reading books and from the assistance of acquaintances who were kind enough to share their expertise. In 1970, she married Arthur Sze, a poet and creative writing instructor at the Institute...

  • Lucy M. Lewis, ca. 1890-1992

    K.B. Schaller|Updated May 17, 2023

    Lucy Martin Lewis was born in a mesa in Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico, to Lola Santiago and Martin Ortiz. Her actual birthdate is unknown. But when the eldest son, Ivan, joined the Marines during World War II, the family changed their last name to Lewis. Lucy would spend her entire life in Acoma Pueblo, and as a seven-year-old, she learned to fashion pottery in much the same way as many other Native American potters: through observing and experimenting. With young Lucy, it was...

  • Lynette Stant, Classroom Instructor

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Mar 20, 2023

    Third grade classroom teacher Lynette Stant, member of the Navajo Nation, grew up in Tuba City on the Navajo Reservation. She is a 15-year veteran instructor on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Reservation in Scottsdale, Arizona. Stant earned her master's degree in elementary education from Arizona State University. She graduated Summa Cum Laude-the highest honorary academic distinction a graduating student can receive. Lynette Stant is also a Gates Millennium Scholar...

  • Jana Schmieding, Writer, Podcaster Actor, Comedian

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jan 27, 2023

    • Lead character in TV sitcom, Rutherford Falls • Host for Women of Size Miniconjou and Sicangu Lakota actor, writer and comedian Jana Schmieding is known primarily for her work in the Rutherford Falls sitcom where she plays Reagan, the lead character. She shares little about her family or early life, but states that she was born and grew up in a small Oregon town with her older sister, Kristen, and was raised "fairly traditionally in the Lakota ways". Jana studied the...

  • Abigail Echo-Hawk, M.A.

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Nov 28, 2022

    Shortly after Abigail Echo-Hawk, M.A., began her job as director of Urban Indian Health in 2016, she was astonished at what she discovered when she opened a file drawer. Inside the drawer was a 2010 comprehensive survey that asked Native-American women residing in the city if they had ever experienced sexual violence. The survey of the148 women participants revealed that 94 percent had either been coerced into sex or had been raped at least once. But what astounded Echo-Hawk...

  • Jourdan Bennett-Begaye

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jun 23, 2022

    Hailing from New Mexico, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye is a Diné (Navajo) citizen who identifies as the Towering House Clan, The Coyote Pass Clan of Jemez, The Mexican Clan and also The Hopi with Red Running Into the Water clan. Currently stationed in Nenahnezad of the Diné Nation, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye holds a master's degree in newspaper, magazine and online journalism. She is also a Newhouse Minorities fellow. She received her degree from The S.I. Newhouse School of Public C...

  • Mary Killman (b. 4.9.1991)

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jun 23, 2022

    Although born in Ada, Oklahoma and reared in Texas, swimming champion Mary Killman is also a citizen of the Oklahoma Citizen Potawatomi Nation. At age 11, as a member of the Santa Clara Aquamaids, Killman competed as a race swimmer in youth competitions. "I took to the water like a fish," she would later state in an interview for Indian Country Today. At age 15, however, Mary decided to switch from race swimming to synchronized swimming. A member of a close-knit family, Mary...

  • Laura Waterman Wittstock (1937-2021)

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Mar 28, 2022

    While others trusted her as a confidant, innovator, mentor, and friend, to her family, Laura Waterman-married to Lloyd Wittstock for a time-was called "a great mother" by her five children (from a second marriage to Florencio Olivera Simas, deceased). Her four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren remember her as "the world's greatest." But as for tributes, there are many more than shared here. Born to Isaac "Jack" Waterman and Clarinda (Cleo Jackson) Waterman on the...

  • Jana Schmieding: Writer, Podcaster Actor, Comedian

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Nov 23, 2021

    Miniconjou and Sicangu Lakota actor, writer and comedian Jana Schmieding is known primarily for her work in the Rutherford Falls sitcom where she plays Reagan, the lead character. She shares little about her family or early life, but states that she was born and grew up in a small Oregon town with her older sister, Kristen, and raised "fairly traditionally in the Lakota ways." Jana studied theater arts at the University of Oregon and earned her master's degree from Mercy...

  • Jillian Weir, Indigenous Olympian

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Oct 4, 2021

    The 2020 Tokyo Olympics--celebrated in 2021 because of concerns for further spread of the COVID-19 Virus and Delta variant-can boast of the highest number of Indigenous participants than in any other Olympiad. From only three Indigenous athletes in the 2016 Rio Olympics, fifty such athletes headed to Japan to compete in the Tokyo 2020 games-the most ever selected in Olympic history. Sixteen participants hail from Australia alone, thirty-three from New Zealand, several are...

  • Judy Baker (b. 1943)

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Sep 2, 2021

    • Seminole Palmetto Doll Artist • Folk Historian Judy Baker learned the craft of Seminole palmetto doll-making from her grandmother and mother, and began crafting the dolls herself when she was around ten years of age. "Palmetto dolls are made from fiber found in the middle of palmetto bark," she explains. "It's brown in color, stretches after being cut, and after it is dried, it can be fashioned into dolls. Palmetto grows in thickets, and is harvested with tools inc...

  • Mary Killman (b. 4.9.1991)

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jun 7, 2021

    • Olympian, Synchronized Swimmer • Silver Medalist, Pan American Games • 2001 Synchro Athlete of the Year* Although born in Ada, Oklahoma and reared in Texas, swimming champion Mary Killman is also a citizen of the Oklahoma Citizen Potawatomi Nation. At age 11 as a member of the Santa Clara Aquamaids, Killman competed as a race swimmer in youth competitions. "I took to the water like a fish," she would later state in an interview for Indian Country Today. At age 15, howev...

  • Outstanding Native Women

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Mar 27, 2021

    • First Indigenous Canadian Woman to own and operate an airline • Included in DC Comics graphic novel Wonder Women of History "Dream it, design it, do it," Teara Fraser, who is Cree and Metis, says. And she has done exactly that. Fraser was born in Hay River, Northwest Territory (NWT), but has lived across British Columbia for much of her life. She was 30 years old when, after a second ride in a small plane, she decided to buy her own airplane and become a pilot. A year lat...

  • Outstanding Native Women

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Dec 8, 2020

    Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna People, was born in Winslow, Arizona into a military family. Her father, J.D. "Dutch" Haaland, a Norwegian-American, was a decorated 30-year career Marine. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for saving the lives of Marines in Vietnam in 1967. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Mary Toya, Deb's mother, served in the U.S. Navy. According to a New York Times article, Haaland connected with her New Mexico voters...

  • OUTSTANDING NATIVE WOMEN

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Oct 14, 2020

    • First woman in her tribe to earn a Medical Doctor degree • Honored with the name of Medicine Victory Woman by her Blackfeet Tribe Mary DesRosier states that she sees the face of God in her family, friends and neighbors she chooses to serve through Indian Health Services (IHS) on the Blackfeet Reservation, in Browning, Montana-in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains where she grew up. Interested in medicine since her youth, Mary joined the University of North Dakota's Ind...

  • Ramona Harjo (February 5, 1938–February 5, 2005) and Josh Harjo

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Aug 6, 2020

    It is always refreshing to see or hear of a husband and wife team, especially Native American, in faith-based, Christian ministry. Such is the case of Josh (full blood Creek) and Ramona Harjo (full blood Choctaw). Because the non-Indian majority in the United States tend to regard all Native Americans as Reservation-based, they also regard them as practicing their own spirituality and traditions that are contrary to Christianity. Native Americans, however, are everywhere,...

  • Outstanding Native Women

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jun 15, 2020

    • Activist • Author • Musician • Educator • Reformer *Co-composed the first Native American Opera* "For untold ages the Indian race had not used family names. A new-born child was given a brand-new name...for which she would not be required to substitute another's upon her marriage, as is the custom of civilized peoples." - Zitkala-Sa, from American Indian Stories Her Dakota/Sioux name (Zitkala-Sa, also spelled Zitkala-Sha) means "red bird," but she was renamed Gertrude...

  • Fern Cloud, Pastor

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Apr 7, 2020

    "So many of our people were told they couldn't be Christian and Indian; they had to choose," Fern Cloud discloses. Similar beliefs by Euro-Americans in the past have prohibited women and Native Americans as a whole from preaching the gospel. Only recently did Native women such as Reverend Fern Cloud dare to dream of pastoring a church-especially a mainline Christian church. Cloud, the great-great-granddaughter of Thaoyate Duta, "Little Crow," Chief of the Dakota...

  • Outstanding Native Women

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Nov 4, 2019

    * Five-time US National Ice Dance Champion * Two-time Four Continents champion * Olympian When Karuk tribal member Naomi Lang, at age six, first performed as a bonbon in The Nutcracker it was only a glimpse of the heights to which she would eventually reach. Born in Arcata, California to Jason Lang (Karuk) and Leslie Dixon (French/English/Irish heritage), Naomi began her ballet training in California at age three at the Redwood Concert Ballet. But Lang's interests took a turn...

  • Outstanding Native Women

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Aug 20, 2019

    WWII U.S. Marine Corp veteran who worked in secret and confidential files, Washington DC Nearly 800 Native American women served in the U.S. military during WWII. For several reasons their contributions-as were those of all women who served in the armed forces during that era-were largely unrecognized. Perhaps the chief reason for such oversight in the WWII era is that, regardless of race or ethnicity, women as a gender were largely restricted regarding the capacities in...

  • Outstanding Native Women

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Jun 3, 2019

    • WARN Co-Founder • Civil Rights Activist • Nurse When officials in the Catholic grade school where Lorelei DeCora was enrolled tried unsuccessfully to sever her ties to her American Indian traditions, their actions no doubt fueled DeCora's early attraction to the 1970s Red Power Movement. She would become one of the youngest to serve as board member for the American Indian Movement (AIM). Born on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska, Lorelei DeCora is a descendant of the Min...

  • Moscelyne Larkin

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Apr 5, 2019

    Born in Miami, Oklahoma, (Edna) Moscelyne Larkin was one of the distinguished Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma dubbed "The Five Moons." She was the only daughter of a Peoria/Shawnee father (Rueben Francis Larkin) and Eva Matlagova-Larkin, a Russian ballerina who tutored Moscelyne herself until at age 15, when Moscelyne was old enough to continue her studies in New York City. Moscelyne joined the Wassily de Basil's Original Ballet Russe in Europe and the Americas. She a...

  • Adrienne Lyle (b. 1985), Olympian

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Feb 1, 2019

    Cherokee Nation citizen Adrienne Lyle was born in Coupeville, Washington. She was reared on Whidbey Island, Washington on a small cattle ranch. In 2005 Lyle worked part-time with highly successful dressage rider Debbie McDonald at Peggy and Parry Thomas' River Grove Farm (Idaho). In 2006, Lyle advanced to fulltime assistant trainer. That was when she "met" Wizard, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Weltmeyer purchased in the Netherlands as a five-year-old. At the River Grove...

  • Patricia Michaels (b. 1967)

    K.B. Schaller|Updated Nov 24, 2018

    When we think about Native American fashion design, traditional aesthetics usually come to mind-intricate beading, fringe and feathers, silver and turquoise-elements that have deviated little over time. Taos Pueblo heritage designer and style-maker Patricia Michaels, however, has taken her edgy, sophisticated one-of-a-kind fashions into the mainstream. In spring 2012, the native of Taos, New Mexico gained national acknowledgment for her designs when she appeared on the...

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