Wilma Mankiller among Native Women Featured in Role Model Book


Native women of courage book coverNative Women of Courage
Kelly Fournel  ½ 7th Generation Publishing
86 pp ½ $9.95
ISBN: 978-0977918324

Young people need strong and positive role models. Young American Indian females have a book, “Native Women of Courage” to reference when looking for role models among Native women.

Author Kelly Fournel, Mètis, writes about ten Native women from American Indian tribes and First Nations. Fournel was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, raised in Calgary, Alberta, and now lives in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

“Native Women of Courage” is broken into ten chapters for each of the ten featured Native women in the book. The book is part of the Native Trailblazers Series. Written primarily for girls from 9 to 13 years old, the book will be appreciated by adults as well.

Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller

Among the most famous of the ten selected women are the late Wilma Mankiller.

Mankiller was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma into a poor family, which lived in a home that lacked modern-day conveniences, such as indoor plumbing, electricity or central heating.

Her family was among American Indian families to be relocated to cities during the 1950s. They were moved to San Francisco, where she had to walk past a sign that read, “No dogs, no Indians.”  In San Francisco, she became part of the Indian organization that took over Alcatraz Island in 1969.

She moved back to Oklahoma and became involved with tribal politics.

Mankiller became the principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, the second largest tribe in America, after overcoming a serious of difficulties in life. Mankiller was the first female principal chief of the Tribe. Her passion for improving the lives of her fellow Cherokees was evident throughout her political career. She died of cancer last year.

“Prior to my election young Cherokee girls would never have thought they might grow up and become chief,” Mankiller is quoted as saying.

Other women featured in “Native Women of Courage” include:

  • Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabeg – Author, environmentalist, vice-presidential candidate
  • Sarah Winnemucca, Paiute – First Native American woman to write and publish a book
  • Maria Tallchief, Osage – Prima ballerina with the New York City Ballet
  • Mary Kim Titla, Apache – First Native American television news reporter in Arizona
  • Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, Maliseet – Petitioned the United Nations on behalf of First Nations women’s rights, and won
  • Susan Aglukark, Inuit – Singer/songwriter and winner of 3 Juno music awards
  • Susan Rochon-Burnett, Metis – First women to be granted a Canadian FM broadcasting license
  • Lorna B. Williams, Lif’wat First Nation – Educator who developed native curriculum for First Nations schools in Canada
  • Pauline Johnson-Tekahionwake, Mohawk – Author and early advocate for Native women’s rights.

Though most of the women, save Winona LaDuke, are lesser known than Mankiller, their stories are not diminished by the lack of notoriety. Each featured Native woman has overcome obstacles Native individuals and females face. The resiliency and strength of Native women is demonstrated chapter after chapter in the book.

The Native Trailblazers Series is refreshing because of its accent on the positive contributions of Native people. It is refreshing because in the past so many other books have not been so kind to Native people.

Whether the young readers are Native or non-Native, it matters little, Native Trailblazers provides the impetus for young readers to make positive contributions to society themselves.



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