March Message

Governor Bill Anoatubby

Chickasaw women a dynamic force within the Chickasaw Nation

By Bill Anoatubby, Governor, Chickasaw Nation

This month, we celebrate Women’s History Month, an annual event that highlights the vital role of women to important moments in history and contemporary society.

The Chickasaw Nation has been blessed with numerous talented and selfless women whose contributions have shaped and strengthened the course of our tribe and country. From the earliest pioneers, to the trailblazers of today, we are thankful for the many dynamic women of the Chickasaw Nation.

In generations past, Chickasaw women were fundamental to Chickasaw society, often engaging in manufacturing, agriculture, politics and warfare. They performed essential tasks to improve the quality of daily village life, such as gathering essential resources, making wooden baskets, clay pottery and clothing, fishing, and gathering wild plant food.

A matrilineal tribe – traditionally tracing our descent through our mothers’ side of the family – the Chickasaw Nation has long valued the strength, wisdom and skill of women.

As the Chickasaw way of life has evolved and adapted to societal changes throughout history, Chickasaw women have taken on new and diverse roles – as governmental leaders, educators, artists and entertainers, historians and health professionals – to enhance the lives of Chickasaws, fellow community members and society as a whole.

Women such as Mary Frances “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher, the subject of the Chickasaw Nation Productions film “Te Ata” and documentary “Bearer of the Morning – The Life of Te Ata Thompson Fisher,” have blazed trails and utilized their gifts to ensure Chickasaw culture endures.

Vinnie May Humes helped preserve the Chickasaw language by co-authoring the first published Chickasaw dictionary. Thelma Ross served the United States as a World War II code talker administrator. Pearl Carter Scott lived a path breaking life as a stunt pilot, and later devoted her life to serve her family and community. Beaulah Shavney served her country as an original member of the Women’s Army Auxiliary during World War II, and the list continues.

The inspirational experiences and fortitude of these great women, along with so many others, have advanced the progress of the Chickasaw Nation in tremendous ways, while paving the way for other aspiring young Chickasaw women.

Today, their legacy can be seen in the continued efforts of women such as Tobi Young, the first First American law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court; Brenda Kingery, contemporary artist and champion of women’s empowerment; and Margaret Roach Wheeler, the 2020 Dynamic Woman of the Year and Chickasaw Hall of Fame inductee who has mentored new generations of weavers while shaping the artistic learning opportunities offered from within the Chickasaw Nation.

Chickasaw women like Helen Cole, Linda Hogan, Geraldine Greenwood and Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham continue to blaze trails in the fields of politics, education, culture and more.

As we work together to build a brighter future for generations to come, the strength and visionary leadership of Chickasaw women has always and continues to shape the path and success of the Chickasaw Nation.