Women’s History Month: Honoring Native American Women

Native America has much to celebrate as March is Women’s History Month, recognizing the great contributions women have made to the U.S. International Women’s Day also falls on March 8, honoring balance through the quest for equality under this year’s theme, “Better the Balance, Better the world.”

PWNA partners with hundreds of professional Native women who are inspired to serve humanity and do so working in health, social services, community service and education programs. The proportion of women with college degrees in the labor force has almost quadrupled since 1970, and this includes Native women. PWNA’s scholarship program, the American Indian Education Fund, has supported many Native women in furthering their education and the ratio of female to male scholars for the 2018-19 academic year was 6 to 1.

With and without college degrees, Native American women are supporting their communities through traditions, culture and balancing of their personal and professional goals.

Karen Red Star (Wicahpi Luta Win), is a mother, grandmother, Elder and health educator on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. She’s survived a gunshot wound, heart surgery, domestic violence, rheumatic fever and boarding school. She knows a healthy body and mind is paramount to a strong community and Karen models the behaviors she wants for her people. Sharing her grandmothers’ teachings, along with her own college education, help Karen to help others who are fighting for a better, more balanced life.

Elisia Manuel serves as Outreach Coordinator for Workforce in Action with the Gila River Indian Community of Arizona. She is married with three children whose joyful faces encouraged her to create the Phoenix-based nonprofit, Three Precious Miracles, where she serves alongside volunteers. Elisia shares, “I believe that we can help transcend trauma through active community linkages and culture for these children who are removed from their homes and placed into homes of other cultures. The purpose of [my] organization is to bridge the gap and provide resources and cultural engagement.” She created this important resource to benefit others, based on her experiences of adoption and love for her children, Telisia, Tecumseh, Jr. and Micah.

Karen and Elisia are just two such examples of the strong Native women PWNA is privileged to work with in the Northern Plains and Southwest. We applaud all our women partners who are working together to better the world.

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