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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Woman Warrior Honored At The White House
by KARIN EAGLE, Native Sun News

WASHINGTON – Women warriors have always existed in many tribes across Indian Country. Their fearless feats in combat and security for their tribes have long been told in historic and contemporary storytelling. One such woman warrior of is Crow, Hidatsa, Gros Ventre and Northern Cheyenne heritage has been recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change.

"Champions of Change," honors veterans and their families who are doing extraordinary work across the country as leaders in entrepreneurship. The Champions have distinguished themselves by continuing to serve our country through their successful small businesses and non-profits that create jobs, spur economic growth, and help their communities.

On Wednesday, August 27, the White House honored The Champions of Change in Washington. Among those honorees was Mitchelene Big Man who traveled from her home in Pueblo, Colo.

Mitchelene Big Man is the President and Founder of Native American Women Warriors Organization (NAWW); the first ever recognized all Native American Women Color Guard.

The purpose of NAWW is to bring recognition to all women veterans, especially those of Native American descent, and their contribution to the military. Big Man was awarded the Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE) for her efforts in being a voice for Native American Women Veterans.

Big man had created dresses to signify her patriotism to this great nation and the First Nations People. In March 2010, the dresses caught the eye of an elder, which was the time the group was recognized as the first all female Native American Color Guard.

The name at that time was the Army Women"s Iraqi Freedom Veterans, because it started out as Army, but changed the name to include all branches of services. Since that historical moment the ladies have made special appearances as motivational, guest and keynote speakers at various events whether Veterans or Native in; conferences, pageants, training, parades and ethnic observances.

"We had the honor in marching in President Obama"s Inaugural Parade, Jan 2013," stated Big Man. "NAWW are still given the opportunities to color guard but have grown into a non-profit, all volunteer program as of March 2012."

"With the growth and changes, along with member changes, our recruitment efforts has blessed us with outstanding and passionate Native lady veterans and assisting us in our vision and mission," said Big Man. "We have been blessed to have lady members, join our ranks and have helped us out tremendously towards a positive direction."

The original dress designed by Big Man, red, white, blue and Indian pink is meant to signify her patriotism of both American and Native American. The red dresses, designed collectively by NAWW"s members (past and present), signify the blood that was shed for this great nation.

The blue ones signify valor and courage as a warrior. Still recruiting new members, NAWW plans on setting up chapters in various states.

"Our duties are still color guard," explains Big Man, "but we have taken on a mission and vision to help our fellow lady veterans of Native American descent in areas of need; health, employment and education."

The mission statement of NAWW reads "We are dedicated to surface recognition of women veterans, especially of Native American descent, and their contribution to the military, that represents our indigenous people and the United States of America."

Big Man was born on Sept. 1 1965 in Billings, Montana. She was raised on and off the reservation, but calls Lodge Grass home. She is married to retired Army Master Sergeant, Dwayne Cyrus. Their family includes six children, two of whom attend Colorado State University Pueblo and the four younger are currently being adopted.

Big Man graduated from Billings Senior High School, June 1983, and attended Montana State University from fall of 1983 to spring of 1986. She received her BS in Business Management July 2011 and Master"s in Business Administration (MBA) July 2013 from University of Phoenix.

She raised her right hand to serve in the United States Army in April of 1987 and retired in April of 2009. Most of her tour of duty was the maintenance field as a diesel mechanic.

She held other positions such as an Equal Opportunity Advisor, Financial Advisor, CSSAMO supervisor, S-2 NCOIC, platoon sergeant, section sergeant and squad leader. Her tours of duty were Germany (2), Korea, Fort Hood, Fort Stewart, APG, Iraq and Fort Carson.

She is currently a Department of Defense Employee, and has worked as a Separations Technician for DMPO/DFAS from Feb 2009 to Oct 2009. Big Man was also a program assistant for Employment Readiness program of Army Community Service (ACS) from Oct 2009 to Sep 2010, and currently working at the Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, Security and Law Enforcement Division as a Secretary.

Her heart belongs to the Native American women veterans who have served and are serving. Her dedication to NAWW mission and vision is to ensure that recognition is given to those women veterans in whatever capacity they served and is currently working to establish programs for them to receive the assistance needed for employment, education and health with the help of fellow veteran"s organizations.

For those interested in the Native American Women Warriors, their contact information via postal mail is P.O. Box 8145 Pueblo, Colorado, 81008. Their telephone number is (918) 388-7697 and their email is

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