Women Wednesday – Native American Leaders

Wilma Mankiller
Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in 1945, Wilma Mankiller is a descendent of Cherokee Indians, a tribe that was forced to leave its homelands in the 1830s. Her family moved to San Francisco, California, with the hopes of more opportunities, however, because of poverty and discrimination, the family struggled.

Wilma’s passion to help her people was inspired by Native Americans’ attempts to reclaim Alcatraz Island in the 1960s. As an adult, she returned to Oklahoma and began working for the Cherokee Nation as a tribal planner and program developer.

In 1983, Wilma ran for and was elected to serve as deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation. A mere two years later, she was named the tribe’s principal chief—becoming the very first woman in the Cherokee Nation to hold the position. Throughout her career, she advocated for improving the Cherokee Nation’s government, healthcare, and education systems. In 1998, Wilma received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her leadership and activism to better the lives of Native Americans.


Dr. Kathy Hopinkah Hannan 
We’re proud to call Dr. Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the national president and chair of the Girl Scouts of the USA Board of Directors, one of our own. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the Women Corporate Directors Foundation, which promotes and strengthens women in the boardroom. A member of the Ho-Chunk Nation tribe, Kathy served under George W. Bush’s administration on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. She also served as a commissioner on the Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal Employment Rights Office Commission, where she was responsible for guiding the tribe’s economic investments, approving development contracts, and reviewing educational programs.

Kathy’s tenure in the accounting profession led her to a series of leadership roles within KPMG, including managing partner of tax, vice chairman of human resources, chief diversity officer, and chief corporate responsibility officer. She currently works with the KPMG Board Leadership Center to broaden governance discussions regarding business and society and is the national leader for Total Impact Strategy.

Women Wednesday – Native American Risk-takers

Ada Deer
Ada Deer was born into the Menominee tribe in 1935 in Keshena, Wisconsin. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she attended New York School (now Columbia University) to earn her master’s degree in social work.

Ada then moved to be closer to the Menominee Nation and worked to advocate on its behalf, especially when working with federal authorities. At the time, the Menominee tribe was governed by Menominee Tribal Enterprises, Inc., however, tribe members did not have a controlling vote when decisions were being made. One of these decisions was to sell Menominee lands and remove the tribe’s federal recognition. Ada, opposing this, joined a group called the Determination of Right and Unity for Menominee Shareholders and frequently visited Washington, DC, to gain support for the cause.

Ada’s passion and courage eventually led to the Menominee Restoration Act, which President Richard Nixon signed into law in 1973. This legislation officially restored the Menominee tribe’s federal status and created the Menominee Restoration Committee, on which Ada served as chair for two years. In 1993, Ada was appointed assistant secretary of the interior and served as head of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs – the first woman to do so.


Eliza Burton “Lyda” Conley 
Lyda Conley, a multiracial member of the Wyandot Nation, was born in 1869. Her family strongly encouraged her and her sisters to pursue an education, so in 1902, she graduated from Kansas City School of Law, becoming the first woman admitted to the Kansas Bar.

Lyda’s most famous case came soon after, when Huron Cemetery, a tribal burial ground in Kansas, was threatened to be sold for development. In protest, Lyda filed a petition in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas to stop the sale. She lost, but that didn’t stop her—she bravely appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, becoming the first female Native American lawyer to be admitted before the court. Unfortunately, she lost again.

Unwavering in her pursuit of justice, when she returned to Kansas, Lyda and her sisters rallied their community to help protect the land, gaining attention from Senator Charles Curtis, who also had Native American ancestry. He introduced a bill to Congress to make the land a national park, and the law was passed in 1916, preventing future development of the cemetery. In 2016, the cemetery was named a National Historic Landmark.

Pawling Girl Scouts Earn Special Women’s Suffrage Centennial Patch

Pawling Girl Scout Troop 10001 devoted their November 1st meeting to celebrating the 100 Year Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in New York State.

Through a series of hands-on activities, troop members learned about the 1848 Women’s Conference in Seneca Falls, where the Declaration of Sentiments was drafted and signed, the 1913 Suffrage Walk from New York City to Washington, DC and an eighty year timeline of milestones and setbacks leading to the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1920.  ““I didn’t realize how difficult it was for women to be able to vote,” reflects Evie after earning the patch with her troop.


Troop members played games that were popular at the turn of the last century as they learned about the children’s tents that were an integral part of the suffrage movement. “That had to have been one of our loudest meetings ever. We had a lot of fun, popping balloons to get items to glue on our timeline,” says troop member Kate.

The troop was inspired to learn about women’s suffrage by a special patch program that was created by New York State’s seven Girl Scout Councils and the New York State Women’s Suffrage Commission.  The troop which includes third through eighth grade students from several area schools hope that all eligible voters will remember to vote every year.


Women Wednesday – Native American Innovators

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte
Our first innovator, Susan La Flesche Picotte, was born in 1865 on the Omaha Indian Reservation in Northeast Nebraska. Her interest in the medical field was ignited from a young age as she witnessed the poor living and health conditions of those in her community. Susan knew she had to discover a way to help. In 1886, she attended the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania after receiving a scholarship from the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs—at the time, Susan was the first person to receive federal aid for professional education. Three years later, she graduated at the top of her class, and after completing a one-year internship, she became the first Native American physician in the United States.

Susan immediately took her education back home, where she advocated for cleanliness and air ventilation to prevent the spread of disease. She was paid only $500 a year as the reservation doctor, and many times, she was forced to pay for her own supplies or create new ways to care for her community members. However, Susan diligently persevered in an effort to care for as many patients as possible.

In 1894, she married Henry Picotte, a Sioux Indian from South Dakota, and moved to Bancroft, Nebraska. There she raised two children and opened her own private practice, despite the criticism she received for being a working mother. Throughout the rest of her life, Susan championed many causes that benefited Native Americans—from advocating for modern hygiene and disease prevention standards to securing land rights for her people to challenging a woman’s role in the family.


Louise Erdrich 
Born in 1954 in Little Falls, Minnesota, Louise Erdrich was the first of seven children. Her mother was a Chippewa Indian (half Ojibwe and half French), and her grandfather served as tribal chairman for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Louise’s love of writing started young when her father paid her a nickel for every creative story she wrote.

In 1972, Louise was part of the first class of women admitted to Dartmouth College, where she earned a degree in English. There she met Michael Dorris, an anthropologist, writer, and director of the college’s Native American Studies program. Through this program, Louise deepened her interest in her own culture and began writing innovative literary work that featured Native American characters and settings. Years later, Louise and Michael began to collaborate on short stories, many of which received national accolades.

Louise became one of the most influential writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. Her novel The Plague of Doves was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, and in 2012 she was honored with the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Today this innovator is still writing and has opened her own independent bookstore in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which focuses on Native American literature and the community.

Women Wednesday – Native American Go-Getters

November is Native American Indian Heritage Month! Throughout the month, we celebrate Native Americans’ diverse cultures and traditions and highlight the many contributions they’ve made throughout history—and at Girl Scouts, we of course especially focus on the Native American heroines. All month long, join Girl Scouts as we honor the amazing G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™ spirit of Native American culture.

sacagaweaDuring the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Sacagawea served as a guide and interpreter whose mission was to find a water route through North America and explore the uncharted West. During this journey of more than two years, she interpreted the Mandan and Shoshone languages, found edible wild foods, cooked, and even saved valuable instruments and records from being lost overboard during a storm.

Sacagawea was particularly key in collaborating with the Lemhi Shoshone tribe, because her brother was the chief. The Shoshone provided the travelers with guidance, horses, and the necessary assistance to get to the navigable waters of the Clearwater and Columbia rivers. Sacagawea received no payment for her contributions to the expedition, despite William Clark’s demands that her husband give her a greater portion of the reward. However, in 2003, Sacagawea was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to American exploration and history.
Alberta Daisy Schenck Adams
albertaAlberta was a teenage civil rights activist in the struggle for equality by the indigenous peoples in the United States Territory of Alaska. In 1944 she challenged segregation practices which helped lead to the passage of Alaska’s 1945 anti-discrimination law, a decade before the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawed segregation in public schools.

Alberta was born in Nome, Alaska on June 1, 1928 to white father and an Inupiat mother.

When in high school, she had a part-time job ushering at the Alaska Dream Theater where part of her job was to make sure non-white patrons sat in the designated segregated area. She registered a complaint about the policy and was fired. She returned later with a white date, and the two of them sat in the “Whites Only” section. She and her Army sergeant date refused to move when the manager demanded she move to the non-white section. The theater manager contacted the local police who arrested Schenck and placed her in jail for one night. Schenck’s arrest rallied the local Inupiat community who staged a protest at the theater until her release from jail the next day.

albertaschenck-letterIndignant and determined not to be deterred, she wrote a letter to Alaska Governor Ernest Gruening and related the incident to him. The prior year, the Governor had seen his anti-discrimination bill be defeated in the Territorial Legislature. Her letter inspired the Governor to have the bill re-introduced in the Territorial Legislature, during which her experience was cited on the floor of the legislature. He answered her letter vowing that no one would again receive that kind of treatment in Alaska. The re-introduced bill, Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act passed both houses of the legislature and was signed into law on February 16, 1945.

She later married and moved to California where she died in 2009. In 2011, she was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.

Troop 10102 Explore Women’s Issues Through GirlTopia Journey

The It’s Your World—Change It! Leadership Journeys encourage girls of all ages to make the world a better place and make new friends along the way. Troop 10102 from the East Fishkill Service Unit just finished up the GirlTopia Journey.

One of their favorite parts of the journey was an art project – the task was to depict something that made them happy / brought them peace. Nicolette, Alexa, Reggie, Emma, and Kim (who are quite the artists) showed off their finalized pieces at the E. Fishkill Library last Saturday.


As part of the GirlTopia Journey, they were encouraged to develop their own vision of an ideal world and acquire the skills to make it a reality. The Senior troop decided to interview women from all generations and walks of life to collect their stories – and hear how gender roles, the media, opportunities for education and employment, and bullying/harassment had affect them as women.

Their youngest interviewee was 12; the oldest was 105. They interviewed women who had grown up in the North America, South America, and Europe. Women who remembered WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, the rise of Jazz music, and Title IX. Women who grew up on farms, worked factory lines during the war, became secretaries, devoted their adult lives to motherhood, served in the military, pursued higher education, and one who aspires to be a film director.

Through these interviews, the 5 Senior Girl Scouts of Troop 10102 began to see a picture of womanhood throughout the last century. They:

  • Gained advice (“if they don’t like you, tell them ‘tough toenails’.”)
  • Gained perspective on how the media and beauty industry set unfair and ever-evolving standards of “perfection”
  • Saw how ‘getting picked on’ has evolved from playground taunts to cyber-bullying through the years.

Here is a collection of some of their interview responses:

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Hyde Park Girl Scout Partners with National Park Service to Earn 57 Jr Ranger Badges

Through Girl Scouting, Shiloh has been involved with the National Park Service’s Junior Ranger program. Over the last 2 years, she has earned 57 Junior Ranger badges and patches.


Through this partnership with the National Park Service, Girl Scouts are encouraged to explore the outdoors and learn about the history of national parks. While having fun at National Parks, Girl Scouts can:18083467_288838671560122_65507982_o

Shiloh enjoys completing the junior ranger books at different sites, because she gets to learn new things. Describing her experience at each National Park or Historic Site, Shiloh shared:

  • At Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, I got to go behind the scenes with a ranger. She showed me the booth where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. She also showed me the offices where the rangers work.
  • At Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site, we went into the basement, which was very spooky. There was a stuffed cat on a shelf in the basement. I thought it was very creepy.
  • 18083641_288856308225025_1767133533_oI explored ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. I climbed up a ladder to the cliff dwelling, and went on a hike.
  • I voted for Women’s Rights and saw the Liberty Bell at Independence National Historic Site.
  • I fed crickets to a grass snake with a ranger at Blue Ridge Parkway National Park.
  • I played on the beach and picked up shells the Assateague Island National Seashore. I saw wild ponies at the beach.
  • I explored Death Valley National Park, which is the hottest place on the planet earth. I really liked the junior ranger activities at that park.
  • At the National Mall and Memorial Parks, in Washington, D.C., I collected a charm from each memorial site and used them to create a charm bracelet that I still wear.
  • I backpacked and camped in Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. It rained during our trip. My favorite parts of camping was eating freeze-dried ice cream on my mom’s birthday, and exploring Sand Cave. Sand Cave is a huge cave! My sister and I slid down the sand like we were sledding.
  • At Dinosaur National Monument, I got a private tour of the fossil wall, and I helped a ranger use a screw driver to fix equipment in the building. The fossilized dinosaurs used to be under a big lake.18083777_288850031558986_857115131_o
  • I learned how to track animals with a guide while we spent a few days at Grand Teton National Park. I saw a whole herd of Bison, and I heard wolves howling in the woods, and I got to touch water in a warm spring.
  • At Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, I saw lots of Great Blue Herons hunting for fish.
  • I participated in a junior ranger program at Fire Isand National Seashore. The ranger taught me about the shells that are on Fire Island. I learned about the proper way to hold Horseshoe Crabs, and that they don’t hurt you- they just tickle you.
  • At Women’s Rights National Historical Park, I learned that women could not vote or own property in the past, and that women fought for rights.

Shiloh also met the recent requirements for the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York, Girl Scout Patch Program. In addition to learning about women’s rights and women’s suffrage, we used the opportunity to visit Women’s Rights National Historic Park, site of the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, located in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Shiloh earned a junior ranger badge at the national park, which helped her engage in the experience.