“A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons.” - Cheyenne proverb.

We are celebrating the sacred women in this world. They are the ones who raise the warriors and the chiefs - those who are charged with protecting the people - and our women encourage and may even shame the men to do what is right. And if the men can not do it, then the women will.

In honor of these women, who rose up and did what they had to do. Here are 5 modern day Native women warriors.

Chief Caleen Sisk, tribal and spiritual leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, expressed security as one that affirmed the sacredness of water. The Winnemem, known as middle river people, have an inextricable link to water—their ancestral homelands located over millennia along the McCloud River. The Shasta Dam drowned this long legacy of histories and many sacred sites and burial grounds. “Dams are archaic, but we are so bought into the idea,” she said.

Sisk has been a vocal opponent of the proposal to raise the height of Shasta Dam, which would further destroy the remaining sacred sites of her tribe. She shared that her heritage and elders—“teachers of rivers”—taught her that security is the health of the springs and the gushing waters in the middle falls on the McCloud River.

“We need organic community systems, which have cisterns to harvest water and live in balance. We need to learn to live off the grid. Human rights by itself will not lead us to the future. We also need the rights of nature secured,” she said.

Mary Brave Bird (Mary Crow Dog) A Sicangu Lakota activist that joined AIM as a teenager and was involved for many years, she told her story in two best-selling biographies, “Lakota Woman” and “Ohitika Woman.” She was married to medicine man Leonard Crow Dog, they separated, reconciled and divorced, she remarried in 1991. She spoke of women’s struggles in the Movement and her activism and spiritualism gave destitute people hope, pride and direction. She walked on in 2013.

Anna Mae Pictou Aquash (Naguset Eask) A Mi’kmaq activist from Nova Scotia, she became the highest ranking woman in the American Indian Movement during the Wounded Knee era and fought for her Native sisters to be treated equally.

Wilma Mankiller Wilma Mankiller was the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served 12 years as Deputy and Principal Chief starting in 1983 and retired in 1995 due to health reasons. She transformed the Nation-to-Nation status between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 and was a role model to aspiring young Native women. The 2013 film, The Cherokee Word for Water is a popular movie depicting early community work that led to her rising political career. She walked on in 2010.

Rigoberta Menchu Tum As a young indigenous woman who grew up in the Quiche branch of the Mayan culture, She was involved in social work through the Catholic Church in Guatemala. Her family members were killed by security forces and she joined the Committee of the Peasant Union. She worked internationally to help her Mayan people resist the military oppression and support Indigenous People’s rights during the brutal Civil War having fled in 1981, many books and films have been made documenting these struggles between 1983 and 1999. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

Ellen Gabriel (Katsitsakwas) As the spokesperson for the Kanehsatake Mohawks during the Oka Crisis in Quebec in 1990, Gabriel gained international recognition when the Mohawk people took over disputed lands that had been claimed for 120 years. The move triggered a standoff between 2,500 Canadian Troops and the remaining Mohawk warriors. Gabriel travelled internationally to drum up support for the Oka Mohawks and spoke at U.N. events about Indigenous People’s issues and human rights. In 2009 she ran for National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations but lost in a disputed election. She is an artist and teaches at Concordia University.

Buffy Sainte-Marie Since capturing the attention of a generation with hit songs like “Up Where We Belong” and “Universal Soldier,” Buffy Sainte-Marie keeps not only packing her rock music with lyrics both politically challenging, romantic and beautiful, but also continuing to pioneer her distinctive digital artwork, and supporting education efforts about and for indigenous people.

Responses to "Celebrating Women: Honoring 7 Modern Native Women Warriors "

  1. Those native women looks the same that our native Mexican women. Specially Menchu. She looks exactly like them. Native American people should consider that natives from Canada, Mexico and Central America are the same race...xD

  2. Turenne says:

    I love the opening quote stating how sacred women are:
    "A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done. No matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons" ~ chayenne proverb

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