Women tribal leaders confront sexism, stereotypes

Across Indian Country, more and more women are leading their tribes but they still face sexist attitudes and other stereotypes.

Cecilia Fire Thunder, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, was ridiculed by her male opponent for showing her emotions in public. Some women opposed her candidacy and still don't like her.

"It's not that she is a woman that I have a problem with, but I would trust her only if she would be herself as a woman," Marie Randall, an 86-year-old who tried to impeach Fire Thunder, told The New York Times.

Wilma Mankiller was the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. "I remember people saying that I wasn't — quote, unquote — chief material," she recalled one man as saying. "If we elect a woman," the man said, according to Mankiller, "we'll be the laughing stock of all tribes."

That was in 1985. Today, 133 tribes have women tribal leaders, according to the National Congress of American Indians. In the past-quarter century, the number of women tribal leaders has doubled, The Times said.

Get the Story:
As Tribal Leaders, Women Still Fight Old Views (The New York Times 2/4)

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