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National Women’s History Projects Recognizes Two Native Women as Honorees

Two Native women are among the 16 honorees designated for 2016 Women’s History Month by the National Women’s History Project, a nonprofit established in 1980 to advance women’s stories and contributions to society. The Project, which played a key role in pushing Congress to officially designate March as Women’s History Month, will honor Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee) and the late Betty Mae Tiger Jumper (Seminole).

This year’s National Women’s History Month theme is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government”, and honors women who “have shaped America’s history and its future through their public service and government leadership,” according to the Project.

Harjo, a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner in 2014, is being recognized for her 50-year career working in journalism, writing poetry, curating museum exhibits and drafting policy. She has assisted in the return of Tribal lands and sacred garments to their rightful owners, and advocated for the passing of the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Harjo was also the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in the 1980s.

Tiger Jumper was the first female Seminole of Florida chief, according to the National Women’s History Project. She worked as a nurse to bring modern medicine to several reservations and worked to preserve language and culture for the young people of her Tribe, particularly through the founding of the Seminole Indian News in 1961. She was also awarded the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native American Journalists Association.