For the longest time in history, anonymous as we all know was a woman. And yes you probably didn’t learn from these important warriors in your history class. As we celebrate this November, Native American Heritage Month we wanted to pay tribute to five Native American Women who influenced and left their mark on History.
#1. Sacagawea: The women who guided Lewis and Clark
Sacagawea was instrumental in the Lewis & Clark Expedition as a guide as they explored the western lands of the United States. Her presence as a woman helped dispel notions to the Native tribes that they were coming to conquer and confirmed the peacefulness of their mission.
When the expedition began, Sacagawea was a young girl, just 16 or 17 years old and pregnant. Even though she was pregnant, she was chosen to accompany them on their mission. Lewis and Clark believed that her knowledge of the Shoshone language would help them later in their journey.
She is celebrated and honored as a hero for showing exceptional bravery and selflessness. She proved herself to be an asset and was the only female among 32 male members of the expedition, traveling for thousands of miles from St.Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Northwest.
#2. Nanye-hi: The war leader of the Cherokee People
Nanyehi (Cherokee: ᎾᏅᏰᎯ: “One who goes about”), known in English as Nancy Ward (c. 1738 – 1822 or 1824), was a Beloved Woman and political leader of the Cherokee. She advocated for peaceful coexistence with European Americans and, late in life, spoke out for Cherokee retention of tribal lands.
Born in a Cherokee Village, she distinguished herself at a battle between Cherokee and Creek bands at Taliwa by taking her fatally wounded husband’s place in battle, leading the warriors to a victory that expanded Cherokee territory in northwest Georgia. For her courage and leadership, Nanyehi was named a Ghigau, a Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nation.
Nanyehi was a strong voice for the adoption of farming and dairying, becoming herself the first Cherokee cattle owner. In her final years of life she opened an Inn on the Ocoee River and died there in 1822.
#3. Sarah Winnemucca: The intelligent warrior and Native rights advocate
Sarah Winnemucca (1844?-1891) was active as a peacemaker, teacher, and defender of the rights of Native Americans. She published Life among the Paiutes, Their Wrongs and Claims and founded a school for Indians.
Sara was born into the royal family of the tribe, and her grandfather worked in solidarity with white settlers. As Sara grew older she moved into a primarily white household where she became accustomed to writing and reading, becoming a translator between her tribe Paiutes and Caucasians.
In 1860 there was a war between the settlers and Paiutes, no military was involved but Paiutes were given a small reservation land. However, they were forced to work for the white settlers, and they were often beaten and treated without dignity. Over the course of the years, hundreds of Paiuts died, Sara was fed up and rallied her people to end the abuse and discrimination. She mailed the white house and fundraised funds for a trip to Washington to speak to a government official herself. One way she raised funds was during the Bannock war, she became the messenger but witnessed awful deaths.
Over the years Sara continued to speak up and gained recognition, giving her the funds she needed to protest in person to speak up against the constitution and racism her own tribe was experiencing. She left behind a legacy, schools and autobiography.
#4. Susan La Flesche: the physician
In 1865 Susan La Flesche was born into the Picotte, was born into the Omaha tribe. As a child she witnessed a sick Native American girl die after a white doctor refused to treat her because of her race.
This experience led her to specialize and gain the education to care for her own tribe. Susan became the first American Indian woman in the entire United States to receive a medical degree. She also graduated at the top of her class in Pennsylvania. She went back to her reservation and provided health care for over 12,000 people.
Years later she moved to Nebraska and started her own private practice. In 1913, she fulfilled her longlife dream which was to open her own hospital. That hospital is now a museum and tribute to her work and legacy.
#5. Lozen: A gifted warrior of the Apache tribe
Lozen was born into the Apache tribe, she was known as the medicine woman, sister of Victorio and a warrior. Many Native American women would stay and take care of the home, but Lozen was more interested in the art of war and often fought alongside her brother Victorio. She was a force to be reckoned with!
Whenever the apache tribe needed to know where to plan an attack, Lozen had an innate power to lead her tribe into the right places.
In 1877, she fled the reservation they lived in, the conditions were so bad that it was known as Hell’s 40 acres. After fleeing and losing many people in her tribe, she joined another tribe with the head leader being Geronimo, one of the biggest Native Americans of her time.
She was at the forefront of fights against the US military, and years later lost the war, being sent to prison where she later died of tuberculosis.
Lozen was a shield to her people!
As your company celebrates Native American History, make sure you mention some of the many Native American women that were such an important part of defining the country and history we know of today.