Five Native American Women You May Have Never Heard Of But Should

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During Women’s History Month, let’s honor some of our Native American sisters by learning more about them. (Picture above is of Ms. Myra Yvonne Chouteau.)

Sharice Davids became one of the first two Native American Congresswomen, and the first openly gay woman, elected to office in November 2018. Ms. Davids studied law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and at Cornell University, and is also a professional martial arts competitor. She directed community and economic development for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a Lakota Native American Reservation in South Dakota. She currently serves as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Kansas’s 3rd district. Ms. Davids is a member of the Ho Chunk Nation of Wisconsin.

Alberta Schenck w as a Civil Rights activist in Alaska who fought against segregation. She, being half Inupiat, was arrested for sitting in the Whites-only section of the Alaska Dream Theatre. After being released, Ms. Schenck continued her activism through letter writing to the Alaskan governor. In response, the governor passed Alaska’s Anti Discriminatory Act of 1945, the first in Alaska’s history. Inupiats are a Native American group in Alaska.

Myra Yvonne Chouteau was the youngest ballerina ever to be accepted to the Ballet Russe de Montecarlo. Born in Fort Worth, Texas,Chouteau is part ShawneeCherokee, a tribe in Oklahoma. She is known for being one of the Five Moons–the five Native American women who reached international fame as Native American ballerinas from Oklahoma. She helped fund the dance company Oklahoma City Ballet. (See picture above.)

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte is credited for being the first Native American woman to receive a medical degree, graduating as valedictorian in 1889. Dr. La Flesche Picotte was inspired to pursue medicine after seeing a Native woman die because a White physician had refused to treat her. She was Omaha, a Midwestern Native American tribe, and was an active social reformer that lead public health campaigns, particularly in schools, since she believed education to be the key to overcoming diseases.

Debra Anne Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, became one of the first two Native American Congresswomen elected to office in November 2018. Born in Winslow, Arizona, Ms. Haaland has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of New Mexico and a law degree in Native American law from the University of New Mexico School of Law. She has served as the tribal administrator for the San Felipe Pueblo in New Mexico, as the chair of the Democratic Party in New Mexico, and is currently serving as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New Mexico’s 1st district.

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