HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

“We are what we imagine. Our very existence consists in our imagination of ourselves. Our best destiny is to imagine, at least, completely, who and what, and that we are. The greatest tragedy that can befall us is to go unimagined.”

– N. Scott Momaday,
Pulitzer Prize Winning Author, Kiowa

Eligibility Criteria

Every candidate considered for the Native American Hall of Fame must be Native American or Alaskan Native.  Candidates must either be federally-enrolled, part of a state-recognized tribe or have verifiable Native descendancy with strong and verifiable ties to their respective communities.


Leadership —Tribal Leader or leader of an effort that earned respect and regard for their accomplishments

Sacrifice —Sacrificed themselves or their own personal interests for the greater good

Contributions to Indian Country —Their work or efforts benefited Indian country or benefited understanding to those outside of Indian Country

Mentorship —Contributed to youth, fellow professionals, elders or other tribal members due to their work for the betterment of Indian Country and serving as a role model

Legacy —Their work or efforts benefited policy, public regard, tribal relationships or other national regard in a way that bettered Indian country for generations that followed or will follow.

Accomplishments —They made a nationally recognized or well-warranted accomplishment that brought Indian country into a national or international positive spotlight. They could have been the first in their field or profession.

 

About The Selection Process

Once eligibility has been determined, the list of potential inductees is compiled by the National Native American Hall of Fame board of directors. This list is entered into a matrix which includes consideration for gender, geographic balance, deceased or living, reputation and category of achievement.

The compiled list of possible inductees is made public, where anyone has the opportunity to indicate their choices, and suggest additional names, through an on-line survey instrument.  You can vote for your favorite nominees by submitting your completed nomination form. The public can vote until May 30, 2019.

After a suitable period of time, the survey results are reviewed by the board of directors.

After considerable discussion, with the afore-mentioned considerations in mind, the board makes the final determination as to who will be inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame.

EDUCATION

Lionel Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota) (1940-)
Dr. Lionel Bordeaux is a long-time educator and was the first president of Sinte Gleska College on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He has received many honors over the years, including Outstanding Educator of the Year by the South Dakota Indian Education Association and has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. Today, he continues to serve as president of Sinte Gleska College, making him the longest-serving college president in the United States.

ADVOCACY

Elouise Cobell / Yellow Bird Woman (Blackfeet) (1945-2011)

A respected tribal elder, Cobell was the lead plaintiff in the groundbreaking class-action suit Cobell v. Salazar that challenged the United States’ mismanagement of trust funds belonging to more than 500,000 individual Native Americans. She was instrumental in the U.S. government awarding $3.4 billion settlement for the trust case, the largest settlement in history.

WRITING/PUBLISHING

Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux) (1935-2005)
Author, theologian, lawyer, historian and activist, Vine Deloria, Jr. is widely known for his book, “Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto” (1969), which helped generate national attention to Native American issues in the same year as the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement.  He is known to many as the leading Native American intellectual of the 20th century and a giant in the realm of Native American policy.

ADVOCACY

LaDonna Harris (Comanche Nation) (1931-)
Ladonna Harris is founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity. As a national leader, she has influenced the agendas of civil rights, feminist, environmental and world peace movements. She was a founding member of Common Cause and the National Urban Coalition and is an ardent spokesperson against poverty and for social injustice. As an advocate for women’s rights, she was an original convener of the National Women’s Political Caucus. She was the 1980 vice presidential nominee on the Citizens Party ticket with Barry Commoner.

SCIENCE

John Herrington (Chickasaw) (1958-)
John Herrington is a retired United States Naval Aviator and former NASA astronaut. He was the first enrolled member of a Native tribe to fly in space.

ARTS

Allan Houser (Chiricahua Apache) (1914–1994)
Allan Houser was a sculptor, painter and book illustrator. He is one of the most renowned Native American painters and Modernist sculptors of the 20th century. His work is in the collections of prominent museums throughout the world.

GOVERNMENT/LEADERSHIP

Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee Nation) (1945–2010)
Wilma Mankiller was a community organizer and the first woman elected to serve as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is the author of a national best-selling autobiography, “Mankiller: A Chief and Her People.”

ATHLETICS

Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota)(1938-)
Billy Mills was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Olympics, at the time was the only person from the Western Hemisphere to win the Olympic gold in this event. He was awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal (the second highest civilian award in the U.S.) by President Obama, for his work with his organization Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

WRITING/PUBLISHING

N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa) (1934-)
N. Scott Momaday is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet. His novel, “House Made of Dawn” (1969) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 and holds 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

MILITARY

Lori Piestewa (Hopi) (1979-2003)
United States Army soldier Lori Piestewa as the first Native American woman in history to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military and the first woman killed in the Iraq War. Piestewa Peak in Arizona is named in her honor.

ARTS

Maria Tallchief (Osage) (1925-2013)
Tallchief was an American ballerina and was considered America’s first prima ballerina, the first Native American to hold that rank. She became the first star of the New York City Ballet, co-founded in 1946 by legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Tallchief’s 1949 role in The Firebird catapulted her to the top of the ballet world. Her role as the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker transformed the ballet to America’s most popular. She was the first American to perform in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater.

ATHLETICS

Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) (1887–1953)
Athlete and the first Native American to win Olympic gold medals for the United States, Thorpe is considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports. He won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, and played American football (collegiate and professional), professional baseball and basketball. The Associated Press named Thorpe the “greatest athlete” from the first 50 years of the 20th century, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted him as part of its 1963 inaugural class.

David W. “Famous Dave” Anderson (Ojibwe/Choctaw), Minnesota
Dave Anderson is best known as the founder of the Famous Dave’s restaurant chain. He travels the country speaking and is the author of several award-winning books.

Dennis Banks (Ojibwe) (April 12, 1937 – October 29, 2017), Minnesota
Dennis Banks was an activist, teacher and author. He was a longtime leader of the American Indian Movement, which he co-founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1968 to represent urban Indians.

Ryneldi Bicenti (Diné), Arizona
Ryneldi Bicenti is a retired American professional basketball player. In 1997, she became the first Native American to play in the WNBA.

Lionel Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota), South Dakota
Dr. Lionel Bordeaux is a long-time educator and was the first president of Sinte Gleska College on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He has received many honors over the years, including Outstanding Educator of the Year by the South Dakota Indian Education Association and has been inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame. Today, he continues to serve as president of Sinte Gleska College, making him the longest-serving college president in the United States.

Sam Bradford (Cherokee Nation), Oklahoma
Sam Bradford is a football quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL. Bradford was only the second sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy during the highest-scoring offense in NCAA history.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Northern Cheyenne), Montana
In 1992, Ben Nighthorse Campbell became the first Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate in more than 60 years. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1993 until 2005. He was also a world-famous athlete and captain of the U.S. Judo Team for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Campbell is also a designer of Ben Nighthorse line of American Indian jewelry. He serves as one of 44 members of the Council of Chiefs of the Northern Cheyenne Nation.

Vine Deloria, Jr. (Standing Rock Sioux) (d. 2005), North Dakota
Author, theologian, lawyer, historian and activist, Vine Deloria, Jr. is widely known for his book, “Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto” (1969), which helped generate national attention to Native American issues in the same year as the Alcatraz-Red Power Movement.  He is known to many as the leading Native American intellectual of the 20th century and a giant in the realm of Native American policy.

Gary “Litefoot” Davis (Cherokee Nation), Oklahoma
Known professionally as “Litefoot,” Gary Davis is a business professional and actor. He began his career in 191 as the first Native American rap artist. He is executive director of the Native American Financial Services Association, CEO of Davis Strategy Group and a member of the Forbes Finance Council.

Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Ojibwe), North Dakota
Louise Erdrich is an author, writer of novels, poetry and children’s books featuring Native American characters and settings. Her novel, “The Plague of Doves” (2009), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. In 2012, she received the National Book Award for Fiction for her novel, “The Round House.”

Tiokasin Ghosthorse (Cheyenne River Lakota), South Dakota
Tiokasin Ghosthorse is an activist, educator, author and master musician of the Lakota flute who performs and speaks around the world. He is the founder, host and executive producer of “First Voices Radio,” which has been on the air since 1992 and is syndicated internationally. In 2016 he was a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize from the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy.

LaDonna Harris (Comanche Nation), Oklahoma
Ladonna Harris is founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity. As a national leader, she has influenced the agendas of civil rights, feminist, environmental and world peace movements. She was a founding member of Common Cause and the National Urban Coalition and is an ardent spokesperson against poverty and for social injustice. As an advocate for women’s rights, she was an original convener of the National Women’s Political Caucus. She was the 1980 vice presidential nominee on the Citizens Party ticket with Barry Commoner.

Ira Hayes (Akimel O’odham) (January 12, 1923 – January 24, 1955) Arizona
United States Marine Ira Hayes who was one of the six flag raisers immortalized in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II.

John Herrington (Chickasaw), Oklahoma
John Herrington is a retired United States Naval Aviator and former NASA astronaut. He was the first enrolled member of a Native tribe to fly in space.

Allan Houser (“Haozous”) (Chiricahua Apache) (June 30, 1914 – August 22, 1994) Oklahoma
Allan Houser was a sculptor, painter and book illustrator. He is one the most renowned Native American painters and Modernist sculptors of the 20th century. His work is in the collections of prominent museums throughout the world.

Winona LaDuke (Mississippi Band of Anishinaabeg of the White Earth Reservation), Minnesota
Winona LaDuke is an internationally-renowned environmentalist, activist, economist and writer known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation as well as sustainable development. She was the vice-presidential nominee of the Green Party of the U.S. in 2000 on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader. LaDuke is executive director of Honor the Earth, a Native environmental advocacy organization.

Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee Nation) (November 18, 1945 – April 6, 2010) Oklahoma
Wilma Mankiller was a community organizer and the first woman elected to serve as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She is author of a national best-selling autobiography, “Mankiller: A Chief and Her People.”

Philip Martin (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians) (March 13, 1926 – February 4, 2010) Mississippi
Philip Martin was a political leader and the democratically-elected chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a position he held for 32 years. Among his many accomplishments, he was president of the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association and founded the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) in 1969. He was a leader in economic development on his reservation and the development of Indian gaming to generate revenues for tribal governments.

Russell Means (Oglala Lakota) (November 10, 1939 – October 22, 2012) South Dakota
Russell Means was an activist for the rights of Native peoples, libertarian political activist, actor, writer and musician. He was a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) after joining the organization in 1968. He was active in international issues of Indigenous peoples.

Billy Mills (Oglala Lakota), South Dakota
Billy Mills was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 10,000-meter run at the 1964 Olympics, at the time was the only person from the Western Hemisphere to win the Olympic gold in this event. He was awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal (the second highest civilian award in the U.S.) by President Obama, for his work with his organization Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), Oklahoma
N. Scott Momaday is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet. His novel, “House Made of Dawn” (1969) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He received the National Medal of Arts in 2007 and holds 20 honorary degrees from colleges and universities and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Carlos Montezuma “Wassaja” (Yavapai-Apache) (1866-1923), Arizona
Dr. Carlos Montezuma was an activist and founding member of the Society of American Indians. He was the first Native student at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University and only the second Native person to earn a medical degree in an American university after Susan La Flesche Picotte. Montezuma was the first Native man to receive a medical degree.

Elizabeth Peratrovich (Tlingit) (July 4, 1911 – December 1, 1958) Alaska
Elizabeth Peratrovich was a civil rights activist who worked on behalf of equality for Alaska Native people. In the 1940s, she was credited with advocacy that gained the passage of the territory’s Anti-Discrimination law in the United States

Lori Piestewa (Hopi) December 14, 1979 – March 23, 2003) Arizona
United States Army soldier Lori Piestewa as the first Native American woman in history to die in combat while serving in the U.S. military and the first woman killed in the Iraq War. Piestewa Peak in Arizona is named in her honor.

Redbone (Pat and Candido “Lolly” Vasquez-Vegas) (Lolly, d. 2010) (Yaqui/Shoshone/Mexican)
Redbone is a Native American rock band that originated in the 1970s with brothers Pat and Lolly Vegas. The group reached the Top 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974 with their No. 4 hit single, “Come and Get Your Love.” The single went certified Gold and sold more than a million copies. The band was inducted into the Native American Music Association Hall of Fame in 2008.

Shoni Schimmel (Confederated Tribes of Umatilla), Oregon
Professional basketball player who last played for the New York Liberty of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Schimmel was an All-American college player at the University of Louisville and a first-round draft pick of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.

Ernie Stevens, Sr. (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin) Wisconsin
Stevens has been an advocate for tribal sovereignty, self-governance and Native rights for more than 40 years. He was perhaps one of the most self-willed political Native activists during the 1960s and 1970s.

Wes Studi (Cherokee Nation), Oklahoma
Actor and film producer Wes Studi has won critical acclaim and awards for his portrayal of Native Americans in film. He has appeared in Academy Award-winning films, including “Dances with Wolves” (1990) and “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) and in the Academy Award-nominated films “Geronimo: An American Legend” (1993) and “The New World” (2005).

Maria Tallchief (Osage) (January 24, 1925 – April 11, 2013) Oklahoma
Tallchief was an American ballerina and was considered America’s first prima ballerina, the first Native American to hold that rank. She became the first star of the New York City Ballet, co-founded in 1946 by legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Tallchief’s 1949 role in The Firebird catapulted her to the top of the ballet world. Her role as the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker transformed the ballet to America’s most popular. She was the first American to perform in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater.

Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) (May 22 or 28, 1887 – March 28, 1953), Oklahoma
Athlete and the first Native American to win Olympic gold medals for the United States, Thorpe is considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports. He won Olympic gold medals in the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, and played American football (collegiate and professional), professional baseball and basketball. The Associated Press named Thorpe the “greatest athlete” from the first 50 years of the 20th century, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted him as part of its 1963 inaugural class.

Elouise Cobell / Yellow Bird Woman (Blackfoot) (d. 2011) Montana
A respected tribal elder, Cobell was the lead plaintiff in the groundbreaking class-action suit Cobell v. Salazar that challenged the United States’ mismanagement of trust funds belonging to more than 500,000 individual Native Americans. She was instrumental in the U.S. government awarding $3.4 billion settlement for the trust case, the largest settlement in history.

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