S2, E12: “The Strength of the American Indian Woman: Inspiration for Women’s History Month, Rachael Youngman, Native ChocTalk Podcaster”

I was recently asked to speak with some inspiring 6th through 12th graders - young ladies of an Oklahoma Native American boarding school that’s near and dear to my heart.

After eating dinner with these intelligent (and fun) gals, many of them eager for their next steps and about to head into the adult world, I talked about Women’s History Month and what it means for us as Native American women.

“How many of you can name at least one famous American Indian Chief?”, I asked. Many of the girls blurted out multiple names of Chiefs that both Natives and non-Natives could easily recall.

“And now, outside of Pocahontas and Sacagawea, can you name some notable American Indian women from history?” The room was silent, as they each started to scan the room for their counterparts who may know. Perhaps they were thinking, “Surely there are several significant Native women we can talk about, right?”

It’s not that these important women don’t exist, they’re just not as well documented and certainly aren’t as well known. Think about it. Can YOU name a few?

Don’t worry, there’s no judgement here and I’ll save you some time – check out this list for starters, from powwow.com, “20 Native American Women You Should Know”: https://www.powwows.com/20-native-american-women-you-should-know/

I went back to my computer later after I met with these ladies and recorded what was in my presentation so that you may also take a listen. I hope you’ll share this episode with your female friends and family members, daughters, nieces, students and so on. It may be a good way for them to start thinking about their own futures and the preservation of the stories of their female ancestors.

In this episode, I share about my own story – the struggles and the successes (cliff notes version of Native ChocTalk’s Episode 1, Season 2). And I delve into the story of the Choctaw woman, Ella Davis, who was given up to a white guardian when she was only 3 years old, and was treated as one of a few slaves in the household. I also tell her of her mother and her mother’s mother, who if you didn’t really take time to peel back the “layers of the onion” of their stories, you’d think they were neglectful and uncaring mothers.

The strength of these women should be one for the history books. And yet their stories, and that of many other Native women in history are rarely preserved. The journeys they made and the struggles they faced have been forgotten – even discarded, like dust in the wind.

And now it is up to us, to both learn about and preserve the stories of those females who came before us. And it is also now our time to make history too!

I thank you, my sisters – both past and present, and those young ladies I met with from the boarding school. I am so proud of you already. I know you will go into the world, work hard, pave your own way, break historical trauma cycles that may be looming and inspire those around you. Maybe someday you will be a guest I’ll be interviewing at Native ChocTalk. And perhaps we’ll be reading about YOU when it comes to Women’s History Month! Please know, I am cheering you on and I will be here for you along your journey.

A special thank you to the ladies’ Dorm Manager at the school and for suggesting this chance to visit with these future generations. I’m inspired by the sincere love you have for these girls.


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