Native American Heritage Month begins on November 1st each year, and has since George H. W. Bush designated November as National Native American Heritage Month in 1990.

Long before Bush’s designation, in 1914 a Blackfoot Indian named Red Fox James took his horse from state to state petitioning for a day to honor Native peoples. One year later, Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian who co-founded the Society of American Indians, organized American Indian Day beginning in 1915 (

Today, we at GNL are taking a moment to admire Native American women’s contributions to the Women’s Rights Movement, honor Native American women in history, and support Native American women making waves in the world today. We hope you’ll join us!

Table of Contents:

  1. How Native American Women Inspired The Women’s Rights Movement

  2. Famous Native American Women In History

  3. Native Artists and Art 

  4. Read Books by Indigenous Authors

  5. Watch Films by Indigenous Filmmakers

  6. Shop Native American Woman-Owned Brands

Native American Women Inspired The Women’s Rights Movement.

According to Historian and Professor Cathleen D. Cahill, “White feminists were inspired by the matriarchal traditions of Native people” (NYT).

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy [translated to “People of the long house”] was built on a platform of female authority.

Women, specifically clan mothers, were (and still are) in charge of appointing the clan’s chief, and women controlled their own property, belongings, and had custodial rights to their children. In the 1880s, non-native American women had none of these rights.

For this reason, early suffragists like Matilda Joslyn Gage and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote about the Haudenosaunee women— their equality disproved religion and science’s teachings that women were naturally inferior to men, and granted them a vision of better lives.

To learn more about the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, visit their website by clicking here.

Famous Native American Women In History

Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin

One of the first Native Americans to graduate from Law School, earning her degree from the Washington College of Law in 1914 (LOC).

Eliza “Lyda” Burton Conley

The third woman, and first Native American woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, ultimately preserving the sacred Huron Indian Cemetery (learn more at

Elizabeth Peratrovich 

An Alaska Native, she played an instrumental role in the passage of the U.S.’s first anti-discrimination law after seeing a “No Natives Allowed” sign in her hometown (Google Doodles).

Annie Dodge Wauneka

She wrote a dictionary translating English medical terms into the Navajo language. In 1963, she became the first Native American to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom (Nat Women’s HOF).

Mary Golda Ross

The first Native American woman to become an aerospace engineer at NASA.

Wilma Mankiller

The First female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation (

To meet even more notable Native American women, check out this list on

Native Artists & Art

Jaune Quick-To-See Smith has been designing abstract paintings, drawings, and prints since the 1970s. Her pieces, exploring themes of political and personal identity, have been featured in galleries and museums like the Museum of Modern Art. Click here to see one of them: Fish For a Lifetime

Anita Fields creates art in multiple mediums, with her primary focus being clay and textiles. Influenced by the human form and natural world, Anita hopes to “…deepen our understanding of the intersection of all living things” through her art,  she states. Click here to see Anita’s work with textiles.

For a broader collection of Native Artists, check out Cherokee Woman, an online boutique for Native art, and Aiukli Art, a collective of Native American artists.

Read Books by Indigenous Authors

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins was the first Native American woman known to secure a copyright and publish a book in English. In 1883, she wrote Life among the Piutes: an autobiographical account of experiences between the Paiute Indians and white settlers. You can read her book at

Joy Harjo is the first Indigenous Poet Lau­re­ate of the Unit­ed States. Along with her nine books of poetry, Joy recently published her second memoir, the National Bestseller Poet Warrior. Click here to purchase a copy.

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is an award-winning author from Denver, CO. The 2020 winner of an American Book Award, her book Sabrina & Corina highlights the experiences of Latinas of Indigenous ancestry in a collection of stories. Click here to purchase a copy.

For more Indigenous books and art, explore Birchbark Books’ vast collection.

Watch Films by Indigenous Filmmakers 

Without A Whisper by Katsitsionnni Fox
In this short film, learn about the profound impact that Indigenous women had on the women’s rights movement. Click here to watch free on PBS.

Little Chief by Erica Tremblay
A 2020 Sundance selection, this short drama follows a young teacher who cares for a student on their Oklahoma reservation. Click here to watch it free on YouTube.

Hoverboard by Sydney Freeland
A short adventure-comedy about a young girl who tries to invent a real, working hoverboard after watching Back to the Future 2. Click here to watch it free on Vimeo

For more films by Native women, look at this list on Women Make Movies.

Shop Native American, Women-Owned Businesses

Below are just a few Native American, women-owned, clothing, and jewelry brands that we love.

To learn more about the symbolism in some of these pieces, check out Native American Jewelry’s list of Native American symbols and their meanings.

Effie Calavaza on Native American Jewelry
Many of Effie’s pieces portray a snake, a positive sign of rebirth and renewal.
View her bracelets, rings, earrings and more.

Beyond Buckskin Boutique
Launched in 2009 by Jessica R. Metcalfe, this boutique allows you to shop from  a variety of Native American designers.
Check them out here.

B. Yellowtail
Founded by Bethany Yellowtail, her shop’s support of Indigenous creators is its number one priority. View their shop.

Badundle Baby
An earth-friendly way to shop for your baby.
View their boxes here! 

Copper Canoe Woman
Founder Vina Brown creates jewelry infused with elements of the land and sea.
View her shop here.

For an even bigger list of Native-Owned brands, check out this one on Beyond Buckskin.