March was Women's History Month. First Nations Outreach, Inc. celebrated by honoring three very amazing Indigenous Women. We also gathered together and learned the traditional teachings of the Ribbon Skirt. As well as made our very own. One of the traditional teachings shared was by sharing our creations. Any time it is a first time of doing something, a first item made, a first hunt, a first harvest, we share that with another by gifting it to someone special.
Here are the 3 Women and their Amazing Accomplishments that we shared during the month of March.
Electa Quinney lived from 1798 – 1885 and was originally from Clinton, New York but came to Wisconsin in 1827. She was a Mohican and member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. In 1828 she founded the state’s first school without an enrollment fee in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. Today there is an Elementary School located in Kaukauna, WI named after her.
On June 20, 1828, Electa Quinney became Wisconsin’s first public school teacher. Most of her students were Indian, they studied in English and she used standard texts to teach arithmetic, geography, language, formal speech, penmanship and spelling. She saw education as a way of preparing young people to meet the challenges their communities faced.
Today you can find Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education that was inspired by Electa Quinney on the University of Milwaukee Campus. The focus of the Institute: is to strengthen and celebrate American Indian education (at the local, regional, and national level with strong connections to indigenous teaching practices around the globe). It was founded in 2010 from an endowment established in 1999 by the Indian Community School.
Elizabeth Peratrovich lived from 1911-1958 and was originally from Petersburg, Alaska. She was from the Tlingit Nation. She was an American civil rights activist, Grand President of the Alaska Native Sisterhood, and worked for equality on behalf of Alaska Natives.
In Alaska, women's suffrage passed in 1913 - seven years prior to the 19th Amendment. However, the 19th Amendment was a part of the ongoing struggle for equal rights. It provided suffrage for American women, but these rights did not extend to indigenous women (or men), who were not considered citizens until 1924.
Elizabeth with her husband and others drafted Alaska’s first anti-discrimination bill, which was introduced in 1941 and failed to pass. On February 5, 1945 a second anti-discrimination bill was brought before the Alaska Senate. The bill passed after Elizabeth stood up and spoke.
In 1988 the Alaska State Legislature declared February 16 as “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.”
Maria Tallchief lived from 1925-2013 and was originally from Fairfax, Oklahoma. She was from the Osage Nation. She became America’s first, major prima ballerina. Not only a trailblazer for Native American dancers, Tallchief is widely considered one of the country’s most influential ballerinas of all time.
Maria starred in acclaimed productions such as “The Firebird”, “Swan Lake”, and “The Nutcracker”. Following Tallchief’s retirement from dancing in 1965, she went on to serve as the artistic director of the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet and the founder and artistic director of the Chicago City Ballet.
For her enduring impact on American ballet, Maria was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1996, received the National Medal for the Arts in 1999, and was inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame in 2018. On November 14, 2007 a bronze sculpture of Tallchief and four other Native American ballerinas was unveiled in Oklahoma at the Tulsa Historical Society in a piece titled “The Five Moons” by artist Gary Henson.