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.
During 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.
Long considered one of the most talented ballerinas of all time, Maria Tallchief was the first American to achieve the honor of becoming a prima ballerina. Her legendary artistic style and dedication to perfection continue to inspire dancers worldwide to this day.
Born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, on the Osage Nation Reservation, Maria started ballet and piano lessons at three years old. Her family then headed west to California, where the young Maria devoted even more time to studying dance. After she graduated from high school, she was accomplished enough to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.
During the next five years, Maria attracted much attention with her memorable performances, particularly those choreographed by George Balanchine. After marrying George in 1946, the couple left Ballet Russe and moved to Paris, where Maria became the first American ballerina to debut at the Paris Opera. Soon after, Maria and George formed the Balanchine Ballet Society, now the world-renowned New York City Ballet. In 1996, Maria was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.