First she broke through the binds of segregation to get her high school degree. This made her the first Seminole Indian to graduate from high school. Betty Mae Tiger Jumper, who was also the tribe’s first health director and the first (and only) woman to lead its Tribal Council, died last week at age 88.
The Sun Sentinel in Florida reports that Jumper died at her home. A memorial service was held for her on Monday.
Mrs. Jumper was extensively involved in tribal government. She was among the original group that gathered under the Council Oak in Hollywood to create the Seminole Tribe’s constitutional government and helped gain federal recognition of the tribe.
She chaired the Tribal Council from 1967-1971.
In 1970, she was one of two women appointed by then- President Richard Nixon to the National Congress on Indian Opportunity. She was a founder of the United South and Eastern Tribes, which became a powerful lobbying force for Indian interests.
“Because she was mixed race — she was half-Caucasian, she was half-Seminole — they told her they couldn’t do those things. She went against the taboos of the tribe,” her son said. “It gave her more willpower and more energy.”