Famous Native American Women in History

Anadarko, Oklahoma, U.S.A. - October 11, 2015: Woman dancing at the Kiowa Blackleggings Warrior Society Pow-wow.

Hi, everyone! You may or may not know, but most of the artists I work with are Native American women. Working with such talented group of women, inspired me to learn more about some of the women that paved the way for the women that I am lucky enough to interact with. Our history has many intriguing contributions from famous Native American women. Pink Camel Boutique is my way of celebrating this heritage, so I thought it would be wonderful to tell you more about the history of Native American jewelry. It’s the perfect way to bring this culture to the forefront and how wearing it can remind you that no matter where you are and where you come from, you have the strength to do anything. Let’s get to it!

Annie Dodge Wauneka

In 1963, Annie Dodge Wauneka became the first Native American to win the Freedom Medal. She advocated for improvement in the education and health sector. She’s well known in the Navajo community, but I think that more people should be aware of her and her achievements.

Image of Annie Dodge Wauneka. One of the most famous Native American Woman in history.When she was just 8 years old in 1918, she witnessed an influenza outbreak. Annie, not the one to stand still in helplessness, assisted the staff in her boarding school with caring for the sick. Later in life, she was a member of the Navajo Tribal Council for 8 years, the second woman ever to be elected.

While she was on the council, she kept fighting against tuberculosis and even wrote a dictionary that translated the English words for modern medical practices into Navajo. Another area of healthcare Annie worked for was to care for pregnant women, infants, alcoholism, and regular eye and ear examinations.

Annie Dodge Wauneka was an amazing woman of great intelligence and drive whose passion was unstoppable! Luckily, this was recognized during her lifetime – in 1984 she was designated The Legendary Mother of the Navajo Nation by the Navajo Council.

Lyda Conley

Born way back in 1869, Lyda Conley was among the first Native American women attorneys. Coming from the Wyandot tribe, Lyda and her three sisters were working on protecting the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City. The sisters settled on the cemetery in a shack in order to prevent the sale of the land – they even used muskets!

After some time, Lyda appeared before the Supreme Court to argue that Native American burial grounds have a right to federal protection. Lyda kept fighting, and in 1916 the cemetery was finally made a federal park.

Lyda is buried at the side, which is today called Wyandot National Burial Ground and it’s also a National Historic Landmark.

 

Maria Tallchief

Image of ballerina Maria Tallchief. One of the most famous Native American Women.What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about ballet? Maybe it’s pink tutus, the Nutcracker, cute little girls, or the long tradition of Russian prima ballerinas.

Well, one of the first American prima ballerinas was a Native American woman from the Osage. Maria, whose Osage family name is really Ki He Kah Stah Tsa, was born in 1925 and moved to New York when she was just 17. There she became a dazzling star of the New York City Ballet, and eventually, she even married its co-founder, George Balanchine.

Maria spent her life not only as the most spectacular ballerina, but also speaking out against stereotypes, and she was even a director of the Indian Council Fire Achievement Award. In Oklahoma, Maria Tallchief day is officially June 29, and you can still see her twirling as one of the Five Moons sculptures at the Tulsa Historical Society.

Pine Leaf

Image of Native American Warrior Pine Leaf.Pine Leaf was one of the best warriors of the Crow tribe, and she also became a Chief. Born in the Gros Ventres nation around 1806, Pine Leaf was captured by the Crow people at 10 years old, so she grew up within the Crow tribe. Pine Leaf didn’t despair – since then she was raised by a Crow warrior and learned all the necessary skills of a great warrior.

Pine Leaf was an excellent horse rider, marksman, and she was an expert at field-dressing a buffalo. The moment she became recognized as a great warrior was after she defended her people during a raid by the Blackfoot. Pine Leaf earned her place on the council of chiefs as both a warrior and a hunter.

The First G. I. Janes

There are so many women hidden in history who fought in wars in one way or another. Women often worked in the Army in informal ways, but in this case, two Native American women were enlisted in the US army as scouts!

Nal-Kai and Muchacha (who real identity is not known) were discovered in 1886 military records by researcher Col. David C’de Baca. Not a lot is known about these women, except that they were enlisted in the army as Army Scouts by the 20th Regiment, U. S. Infantry, at Fort Wingate.

This is amazing because there’s proof women were officially a part of the army way back in 1886, and to make things better, these are Native Americans!

All these women emanate strength and passion. I hope the stories of these women brought a smile on your face and in some way inspired you to leave your footprint in history!

We all have a warrior within us!

XOXO DeeDee

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