Native Women In Science (profile)

From earth to sky, there’s no frontier Native American women haven’t crossed, from mapping the earth to flying through hurricanes to mastering animal science and promoting indigenous knowledge.

Lisa Lone Fight, enrolled in the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (Sahnish) Nation, is the great-granddaughter of Buffalo Bird Woman, an expert in Native agricultural science whose gardening techniques have been the topic of conversations about sustainability and of at least one book, Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden, originally published as Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation by Gilbert Livingstone Wilson (University of Minnesota, 1917).

Lone Fight believes she’s carrying on Buffalo Bird Woman’s traditional knowledge of the earth through research on mapping and the commonalities of traditional knowledge, geospatial science and land change over time.

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Original Patriots

The Original Patriots, written by Yurok/Maidu/Pit River author Chag Lowry, is 270-pages with 200 color and black and white photographs, plus maps of key World War Two battles.

It contains 60 interviews of Native veterans from the Mountain Maidu, Pit River, Yurok, Tolowa, Hupa, Karuk, Wiyot, Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone cultures represented. The book also includes a summary of Native American participation in World War One and a history of the Indian boarding school system that most of these veterans went through as young people.

Nomlaki Wintun Tribal member Named Opening Day Starter (profile)

Last year, Kyle Lohse, Nomlaki Wintun, helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series.  Today, he’s helping them start their season as their opening day pitcher in their game against the Florida Marlins in Miami, an honor bestowed on a player trusted to help the team start their baseball season off on the right track.

Last season Lohse became only the 36th active pitcher to win 100 games when he helped lead the Cardinals to a 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cardinals Chris Carpenter, arguably one of the best pitchers in the game, is out of the lineup indefinitely.  Lohse won more games, however, and had a better ERA, than anyone on the staff last season. Lohse remains humble despite his success and getting the nod to open the season for the defending champs.

“It is an honor. But at the same time, Carp or Waino could be the ones out there doing it,” said Lohse to Jenifer Langosch of “I wish it was in a different circumstance, but I’ll be ready to get it going. That’s not really going to change my approach or anything. It’s Opening Day, but it counts as much as the hopefully 33, 34 other starts that I get.”

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NIEAs Remarks About Our Sister Elouise Cobell

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Dear Andre; 

As you have probably heard, we lost a very important relative.

Elouise Cobell, Little Bird Woman, was a member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe of Montana and a great-granddaughter of Mountain Chief, one of the legendary Blackfeet leaders of the West. Elouise Cobell was a graduate of Great Falls Business College and attended Montana State University.

As Treasurer of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, she established the Blackfeet National Bank, the first national bank to be located on an Indian reservation and to be owned by a Native American tribe. She served on the Board of the Native American Bank and First Interstate Bank.


She was a warrior for the Cobell v. Salazar case. This was a class-action lawsuit led by Elouise Cobell
and others against two departments of the United States government, and in 2010 the current administration offered a settlement of $3.4 billion of the longstanding class action suit.  

Our President Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak said this of our NIEA 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient:

"Our nation has lost an incredible leader with the passing of Eloise Cobell.  She stood for accountability, doing what is just and fair, and honoring the trust responsibility of the federal government to American Indians. She was also a longtime supporter of education for American Indians and the chance at a better life that a quality education would bring.  We will miss her and we honor all the good that she accomplished during her life. " 


As we look to our leaders for strength, please remember to take a few moments for our sister Elouise. She was victorious in her battle, because she chose to fight and stand up for her rights.  



National Indian Education Association 

Elouise Cobell Passes

Elouise Cobell

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HELENA, Montana (AP) - Elouise Cobell, whose 15-year fight to force the U.S. to account for more than a century of mismanaged Indian land royalties led to the largest government class-action settlement in the country's history, died Sunday. She was 65.

Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet tribe who was born with the name Little Bird Woman, died at a Great Falls hospital of complications from cancer, spokesman Bill McAllister said.

Cobell was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed in 1996 claiming the government had misspent, lost or stolen billions of dollars meant for Native American land trust account holders dating back to the 1880s.

After years of legal wrangling, the two sides in 2009 agreed to settle for $3.4 billion. The beneficiaries are estimated to be about 500,000 people.

Asked what she wanted her legacy to be, she said she hoped she would inspire a new generation of Native Americans to fight for the rights of others and lift t heir community out of poverty.

"Maybe one of these days, they won't even think about me. They'll just keep going and say, 'This is because I did it,'" Cobell said. "I never started this case with any intentions of being a hero. I just wanted this case to give justice to people that didn't have it."

Cobell said she had heard stories since she was a child of how the government had shortchanged Native Americans with accounts for royalties from their land that was leased for resource development or farming.

Cobell said she became outraged when she actually started digging into how much money the government had squandered that belonged people who were living in dire poverty on the Blackfeet reservation in northwestern Montana.

She realized the amount mismanaged since the 1880s could be hundreds of billions of dollars. She said she tried for years working with two U.S. government administrations to resolve the dispute, then decided to sue with four other Nat ive Americans as plaintiffs when no progress was made.

The government dug in. Over the next 14 years, there were more than 3,600 court filings, 220 days of trial, 80 published court decisions and 10 appeals until the 2009 breakthrough.

Under the settlement, $1.4 billion would go to individual Indian account holders. Some $2 billion would be used by the government to buy up fractionated Indian lands from individual owners willing to sell, and then turn those lands over to tribes. Another $60 million would be used for a scholarship fund for young Indians.

Cobell spent the next year shuttling back and forth between her home to Washington, D.C., to lobby individual congressmen to approve the deal. She also logged thousands of miles traveling across Indian country to explain the deal to the potential beneficiaries.

She found unexpected resistance among some Native Americans. They questioned why it was so little, how much would be going to her and they attor neys or why it didn't include a more complete accounting of what happened to the money.

Congress approved the deal and President Barack Obama signed it in December of 2010, a year after it was first proposed. A federal judge approved the settlement in June, though there are still appeals of the settlement pending.

Cobell discovered she had cancer just a few weeks before the judge's approval in June. She traveled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for surgery.

Cobell was the great granddaughter of the famous leader Mountain Chief. She grew up with seven brothers and sisters on the Blackfeet reservation.

She was the Blackfeet nation's treasurer for 13 years, and in 1987 helped found the first U.S. bank to be owned by a tribe, the Blackfeet National Bank, which is now the Native American Bank.

Cobell was the executive director of the nonprofit Native American Community Development Corp., which promotes sustainable economic development in Indian Country.

She won a $300,000 "genius grant" from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1997 and used most of the money to help fund the lawsuit.

Cobell lived on a ranch with her husband Alvin. Her only son, Turk, lives in Las Vegas with his wife Bobbie and their children Olivia and Gabriella. 

Healing in Two Worlds (profile)

Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord is a Native American surgeon who has been recognized for combining the world of Western medicine and traditional Navajo healing techniques. Alvord has been appointed the associate dean of student affairs for the Central Michigan University College of Medicine, but when she was a young girl, she wanted to be a teacher like her grandmother.

Native Linguist Awarded MacArthur Grant (profile)

Jessie Little Doe Baird

Indigenous Language Preservationist

Co-Founder and Director
Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project
Mashpee, Massachusetts
Age: 46

Jessie Little Doe Baird is a linguist who is reviving a long-silent language and restoring to her Native American community a vital sense of its cultural heritage. Wampanoag (or Wôpanâak), the Algonquian language of her ancestors, was spoken by tens of thousands of people in southeastern New England when seventeenth-century Puritan missionaries learned the language, rendered it phonetically in the Roman alphabet, and used it to translate the King James Bible and other religious texts for the purposes of conversion and literacy promotion. As a result of the subsequent fragmentation of Wampanoag communities in a land dominated by English speakers, Wampanoag ceased to be spoken by the middle of the nineteenth century and was preserved only in written records. Determined to breathe life back into the language, Baird founded the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, an intertribal effort that aims to return fluency to the Wampanoag Nation. She undertook graduate training in linguistics and language pedagogy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked with the late Kenneth Hale, a scholar of indigenous languages, to decipher grammatical patterns and compile vocabulary lists from archival Wampanoag documents. By turning to related Algonquian languages for guidance with pronunciation and grammar, this collaboration produced a 10,000-word Wampanoag-English dictionary, which Baird continues to develop into an essential resource for students, historians, and linguists alike. In addition to achieving fluency herself, she has adapted her scholarly work into accessible teaching materials for adults and children and leads a range of educational programs—after-school classes for youth, beginning and advanced courses for adults, and summer immersion camps for all ages—with the goal of establishing a broad base of Wampanoag speakers. Through painstaking research, dedicated teaching, and contributions to other groups struggling with language preservation, Baird is reclaiming the rich linguistic traditions of indigenous peoples and preserving precious links to our nation’s complex past.

Jessie Little Doe Baird received an M.Sc. (2000) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has served as the co-founder and director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project in Mashpee, Massachusetts, since 1993.

Go Lori (profile)

After becoming the first Navajo woman to be board-certified in surgery in 1994, LORI ARVISO ALVORD realized there was a way for her to give back. After completing her training at Stanford University, she returned for six years to the New Mexico reservation where she had grown up, according to the “CHANGING THE FACE OF MEDICINE: CELEBRATING AMERICA’S WOMEN PHYSICIANS” traveling exhibit at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

“I went back to the healers of my tribe to learn what a surgical residency could not teach me. From them, I have heard a resounding message: Everything in life is connected,” Alvord was quoted as saying in 2002.

Alvord’s photo and story are among dozens about female physicians that are displayed through May 12 in “Changing the Face of Medicine” at the SIU medical library (fourth floor), 801 N. Rutledge St. The exhibit is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

The exhibit tells the story of how American women who wanted to practice medicine struggled over the past two centuries to gain access to medical education and to work in the medical specialty they chose. In 1849, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to earn an M.D. degree in the United States.

Exhibit categories include “Making a Difference,” “Fighting for Rights,” “Confronting Prejudice” and “Achieving Breakthroughs.”

Among female physicians credited with medical breakthroughs was VIRGINIA APGAR (1909-74), who in 1952 developed the Apgar score, the first standardized way to evaluate the general health of a newborn baby. The test quickly determines whether the baby will need to be resuscitated.

“Virginia Apgar originally trained as a surgeon, but because other women had been unable to build successful careers in surgery, the chief of the department at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons encouraged her to study anesthesiology instead,” the exhibit notes.

“Apgar studied obstetrical anesthesia — the effects of maternal anesthesia given during childbirth on the newborn baby.”

Obstetrician and gynecologist HELEN DICKENS (1909-2001), who founded a teen clinic for school-age mothers in Philadelphia, was the first African-American woman admitted to the American College of Surgeons.

Other physicians noted in the exhibit include:

• MATILDA EVANS (1872-1935), who founded Taylor Lane Hospital in 1901.

• GERTY CORI (1896-1957), the first U.S. woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In 1947, she and her husband were named joint recipients for their work on the cycle of carbohydrates in the human body.

• Dermatologist NANCY JASSO helped found a tattoo-removal clinic.

Two interactive kiosks traveling with the exhibition offer access to the National Library of Medicine’s “Local Legends” Web site, which has access to educational and professional resources for people considering medicine as a career.

A section of the Web site called “Share Your Story” allows the public to add the names and biographies of female physicians they know. (To add a favorite woman to the roster, click on “Share Your Story” at the online exhibition,

Tamara Browning is a columnist and feature writer for The State Journal-Register. She can be reached at 788-1534

Tribal Attorney Passes (profile)

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Longtime Yakama Nation attorney Tim Weaver left behind big shoes to fill, a tribal leader said Tuesday, a day after his death.

Weaver, a champion of American Indian law who battled in court for Yakama fishing rights, died at home Monday. He was 65.

He will be remembered as an aggressive attorney who was an advocate for tribal treaty fishing rights and who honored the Yakamas' way of life, said Yakama General Council Vice Chairwoman Mavis Kindness.

"Those who knew him, those that knew they could rely on him are going to miss him," she said Tuesday. "It's going to be a big void. It's going to be tough for us to find someone who was as aggressive as he was and as assertive."

Weaver spent 40 years representing the tribe in state and federal courts -- including two cases in U.S. Supreme Court -- over myriad issues, including fishing and water rights, zoning and development and natural resources.

On Tuesday, his son Tyler, also an attorney, said his father died peacefully and surrounded by family in his Yakima home.

Tyler Weaver said his father had cancer for nearly 18 years, and for the past 15 months "was really fighting a battle to stay ahead."

He had prepared for his death by arranging for a special tribal ceremony on the Yakama reservation and writing his own death notice.

"It's a big loss for us, but we're holding on and we know he put up the toughest fight he could," Tyler Weaver said.

Some Yakama tribal leaders considered Weaver a warrior who respected the tribe's way of life. They point to a 1974 case he successfully argued all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which for the first time affirmed the tribe's authority to enforce its own fishing laws outside reservation boundaries.

A ceremonial dinner was held for him at the Wapato Longhouse -- a traditional church -- after he retired in January.

"What he knew of our ways, our livelihood ... there were times he'd show up at our gatherings and he'd wear a vest and moccasins," Kindness said. "He showed respect."

Weaver grew up in Ellensburg and graduated from the University of Washington in 1967. He worked as a law clerk for Washington Supreme Court Justice Morrell Sharp after completing Willamette Law School in 1970.

He was also president of the Yakima County Bar Association.

"He was probably one of the giants of the Yakima County Bar Association," said Bob Tenney, the association's president. "Tim was a tremendous advocate and at the same time always full of grace and wit and a delight to work with."

His career got into full swing after taking a position at Jim Hovis' law firm, which specialized in Indian law. He later moved into his own practice and worked out of his downtown Yakima office housed in The Tower.

Hovis, who quit representing the tribe after experiencing health issues, said Weaver did an excellent job carrying the torch.

"He was a good hard worker and I was awful proud to have selected him because when I left, I thought he did a really good job," Hovis said. "Tim took over real well."

Succeeding Weaver is Yakima attorney Tom Zeilman, who recently took over his practice. He considered Weaver as among the best attorneys in the northwest and the expert on Indian treaty fishing rights.

"He left quite a legacy," Zeilman said.

Weaver touted a 2008 salmon accord between the Bonneville Power Administration and four Columbia River tribes, including the Yakama Nation, as his biggest accomplishments in recent years. The agreement committed federal agencies to dump some $900 million into fish restoration and protection efforts in the Columbia River basin.

"He was really proud of that," Zeilman said softly.

Survivors include his wife, Gail Weaver of Yakima; sons Tyler and Ryan Weaver; a brother, Jud Weaver; and four grandchildren.