Native Sun News: Marcella LeBeau honored during Obama visit

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

An Army nurse during WWII, 94 year old Marcella LeBeau, Mniconjou, was honored with a song during the recent visit by President Obama and the First Lady on the Standing Rock Reservation.

Marcella LeBeau honored
World War II vet was on Omaha Beach
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

CANNONBALL, N.D. –– A mere 20 years after the United States of America granted citizenship to the first inhabitants of the continent, a young Mniconjou woman left her reservation in South Dakota and joined the Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

Marcella Ryan LeBeau is a member of the Two Kettle Band of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and lives in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Her Lakota name is Wigmuke Waste Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman).

LeBeau served as a nurse in WWII becoming a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps. The army service took her from the United States to Wales, England, France and Belgium. She was on the Beaches of Normandy on D-Day, 1944, helping to give aid to the wounded soldiers.

In 2006, 100 WWII veterans received an official, and distinctive, thank you from the government of France in a ceremony held on the bow of the Battleship Texas in La Porte. LeBeau was among those honored.

The veterans, from all branches of the U.S. military, received the French Legion of Honour medal, the highest French decoration along with a second medallion, a commemorative gift containing grains of sand from Normandy Beach.

In 1992 and 1995 LeBeau and her son, Richard went to Glasgow, Scotland with interest in the return of the Ghost Dance Shirt that was taken from Wounded Knee in 1890. After negotiations the ghost shirt was returned by the Kelvin Grove Museum.

2006 saw LeBeau inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. The South Dakota Hall of Fame, located in Chamberlain, recognizes and honors pioneers and leaders who have contributed to the development and heritage of South Dakota.

During the recent historic visit by President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama to the Standing Rock reservation, LeBeau was recognized by the gathered crowd with an honoring song.

For over twenty minutes LeBeau stood before the crowd who lined up to shake her hand as the song progressed. Secret Service members scrambled throughout the crowd to try and maintain the order.

(Contact Karin Eagle at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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