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Accomplishments of Native American Women

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Maria Tallchief

Tallchief was born the daughter of an Osage tribe member in Fairfax, Oklahoma in 1925. She was a trailblazer for Native Americans in the field of ballet. In 1947, she became the first prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet—a title that she would hold for the next 13 years. That same year, Tallchief became the first American to dance with the Paris Opera Ballet.

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Sacagawea is most well-known for guiding Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during their Corps of Discovery expedition of the Western United States in 1806. She was born in a Shoshone tribe as Agaidika, or “Salmon Eater” in 1788.

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Though her life was rather different than as depicted by Disney, Pocahontas was a Native American woman who married an Englishman called John Rolfe and became a celebrity in London in the last year of her life. She was a daughter of Wahunsunacock (also known as Chief or Emperor Powhatan), who presided over an area comprised of almost all of the neighboring tribes in Virginia (called Tenakomakah then). Her formal names were Matoaka and Amonute; ‘Pocahontas’ was a childhood nickname referring to her frolicsome nature.

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Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller worked for several years as a leading advocate for the Cherokee people, and became the first woman to serve as their principal chief in 1985. She sought to improve the nation’s health care, education system and government. She decided not to seek re-election in 1995 due to ill health. After leaving office, Mankiller remained an activist for Native-American and women's rights until her death.

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Sarah Winnemucca

Sarah Winnemucca was a member of the Northern Paiutes and an author, educator, interpreter and military scout who advocated for the rights of Native American communities.  She spoke passionately in the west and east about the terrible treatment of Native American communities and wrote the book Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims

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