‘These Guys Paved the Way for Us’

By Lisa Pemberton, Puyallup Tribal News staff writer

A group that included tribal activists, writers, lobbyists and other change-makers were inducted into the 2019 National Native American Hall of Fame.

Puyallup Tribal member Nancy Shippentower-Games attended the Nov. 2 ceremony at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on Tulsa, Okla. Her uncle, the late Nisqually tribal activist Billy Frank Jr., was one of the 12 inductees. She knew all of the other honorees, too.  

“They opened doors that nobody could open,” Shippentower-Games said. “They got educated. They did things that nobody else would have done.”

The other inductees included: Lucy Covington (d. 1982), Colville; Ada Deer, Menominee; Louise Erdrich, Turtle Mountain Chippewa; Forrest Gerard (d. 2013), Blackfeet; Hattie Kauffman, Nez Perce; Oren Lyons, Onondaga; Richard Oakes (d. 1972), Mohawk; Elizabeth Peratrovich (d. 1958), Tlingit; Pascal Poolaw (d. 1967), Kiowa; Mary Golda Ross (d. 2008), Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; and Wes Studi, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

James Parker Shield, Little Shell Chippewa, chief executive officer and founder of the National Native American Hall of Fame, described the inductees as stellar individuals with inspirational achievements.  

Shippentower-Games said they were movers and shakers who opened doors in Congress and broke down political barriers.

“Now our people are a powerhouse to be reckoned with in those agencies,” she said. “We can make changes. These guys paved the way for us to put our feet in the door.”

For more information on the National Native American Hall of Fame, visit www.nativehalloffame.org.