Articles from the 'Outstanding Native Women' series


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  • Buffalo Calf Road Woman, b. ca. 1844-1879

    KB Schaller|Updated May 14, 2024

    It was not until 2005 that Northern Cheyenne storytellers broke their silence about what really happened at the Battle of The Little Big Horn-known mainly to Native Americans as the Battle of Greasy Grass, and to non-Natives as Custer's Last Stand. But it took more than a century before Buffalo Calf Road Woman, a Northern Cheyenne who was also known as Buffalo Calf Trail Woman-was revealed as the Native American heroine who played a pivotal role in the conflict's ending. When...

  • LeeAnn Dreadfulwater, b. 3/3/1962

    KB Schaller|Updated Jan 22, 2024

    LeeAnn Dreadfulwater could be described as a woman who "wears many hats." Although little is shared via the media regarding her family and personal life, LeeAnn does not mind others knowing is that she loves riding her gleaming white Paso Fino gelding-a naturally gaited horse originally imported from Spain and prized for its natural, four-beat, smooth and ambling gait. Dreadfulwater is married, lives in Park Hill, Oklahoma, and has also lived in Tahlequah, Oklahoma....

  • Mary L. Smith

    KB Schaller|Updated Dec 1, 2023

    The American Bar Association (ABA) made history in 2023 when it installed Mary L. Smith as its first ever female Native American president. Prior to Smith's election to the ABA-which is the world's largest voluntary association of lawyers, judges, and legal professionals-Smith had already served on its board of governors and was its secretary from 2017 to 2020. Born to Cherokee parents, Smith is a member of the Cherokee Nation. She is also former CEO of Indian Health Services...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Abigail Echo-Hawk, M.A.

    Updated Sep 30, 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 was a 2010 comprehensive survey which 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 most was...

  • Jocelyne Larocque, b. May 19, 1988

    Updated Aug 5, 2022

    In her Olympic debut at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Jocelyne Larocque, playing with national Team Canada, won Gold. In the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, however, Larocque and Team Canada were awarded the Silver Medal. Second place. And the 3-2 loss to the USA was, momentarily, too much of a disappointment for Jocelyne to take. Born in Ste. Anne, Manitoba, Canada, Jocelyne Larocque (Metis heritage), is so competitive, she removed her Silver Medal from around...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

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