Lac du Flambeau Tribal Citizen Becomes First Female General in Wisconsin Army National Guard

Lac du Flambeau member, Joan Mathews, makes history

Lac du Flambeau member, Joane Mathews, makes history

Published April 9, 2016

MADISON, WISCONSIN — Wisconsin Army National Guard Col. Joane Mathews made history Monday was promoted to brigadier general – making her the first female general in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Firsts aren’t new to Mathews, a member of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians – she’s been breaking glass ceilings her entire 29-year military career.

She was also the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s first female Army chief of staff, the first female brigade commander, the first female commander of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, and the state’s first non-medical female colonel. Not only has Mathews succeeded in a military environment once dominated by men, she overcame humble beginnings on a Wisconsin Indian reservation en route to prominence in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Brigadar General Joan Mathews

Brigadier General Joane Mathews

Mathews admitted to experiencing a flood of emotions concerning her new role. “I have several family members who have served well before me, and I am especially proud to carry on the legacy of military service my father had started,” she said. “I am also sad that he can’t be here to see me pin on this rank, as he had been to almost every other promotion in my career.

“I am hopeful to be a positive role model for other female service members,” Mathews continued, “anxious to begin this new chapter in my life, and excited – to serve in such a capacity is quite an honor.”

“We are proud of Col. Mathews and congratulate her on her many accomplishments. She is an excellent role model for Native Americans. We wish her much success in all of her endeavors,” said Mike Allen, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (GLITC).

She graduated from Lakeland Union High School, Minocqua. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Aviation Administration from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks; a Master’s Degree in Military Management from Touro University; and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. Her military education includes Army Aviation Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Combined Arms and Services Staff School, Command and General Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. She has also completed the initial Entry Rotary Wing Course, Helicopter Instructor Course, and Maintenance Test Plot Course.

Brigadier General Mathews’ awards include the Legion of Merit with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Achievement Medal, the Senior Army Aviator Badge, and the Army Superior Unit Award.

Brigadier General Mathews is employed full-time as the Director of Human Resources for the Department of Military Affairs. She lives in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin with her husband Ric and daughters Shannon and Lindsey.

Editor’s Note: This article appears courtesy of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians e-newsletter.  



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