Proud to Be: Native Women

a #NotYourMascot inspired list of historically/currently important Native women we all deserve to know


  1. What famous Native American and Indigenous women do you know and treasure? Sometimes, non-Native people can only think of two historical figures: Pocahontas and Sacagawea. We should all know a lot more.

    This is a record of some of the tweets I wrote as part of #NotYourMascot on Sunday, Feb. 2. This Twitter event was started by Jacqueline Keeler (@jfkeeler). There is a lot of good coverage of the event online, at the Good Men Project, Al Jazeera and Indian Country Today (whose article includes a very moving collection of images from the hashtag):
  2. A highlight of the #NotYourMascot movement was the National Congress for American Indian's video, "Proud to Be."
  3. As Adrienne K. of Native Appropriations notes in her review of this much circulated video, though there is a lot to love in the film (especially all the images of contemporary Native American peoples), there are also some points we can be more critical about. 
  4. I was particularly bothered by the lack of Native women included in the video's list of historically recognizable Native American men which included Sitting Bull, Hiawatha, Jim Thorpe, Squanto, Red Cloud, Tecumseh, Crazy Horse, [Billy] Mills, Will Rogers, and Geronimo. There are Native women shown in the video, but these historically important names that are interspersed with the names of tribes and poetic descriptions (resilient, indomitable) do not include even Pocahontas or Sacagawea. So I decided to spend some time participating in #NotYourMascot by tweeting the names of historically important Native American and Indigenous women.

    Below is the result. An imperfect, incomplete list of Native women who I would have loved to see recognized in the "Proud to Be" video. I included just their name and their tribal affiliation (as best as I could find it from mostly online sources). I decided not to include links to more information about them or summaries of who they were or are. Partly that was about what Audra Simpson calls ethnographic refusal. I teach about these women in my classes but Twitter is not the format to give the lives and work of these women their full due. I offered the names in the hopes that readers would be intrigued and go find out more on their own, or recognize someone from their own tribe or community.

    I want us to teach each other the names of Native women who we should all know and treasure so it becomes less possible, less thinkable, to have a video about Native representation that cites the names of 10 Native American men and 0 Native American women. I've counted approximately 133 names here. They are leaders, activists, artists, warriors, teachers, scholars, filmmakers, novelists, poets, actresses, doctors, lawyers, queens and ballerinas. Some of their names I know well, especially those from my own Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) communities. Some of them I only discovered as I started to make this list. They are all women I am continuing to learn and care more about. Please help me add to the list.