Pioneering aeronautic engineer and mathematician Mary G. Ross (1908-2008) at the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, September 21, 2004. (Photo by Mary McCarthy)
By Kara Briggs, American Indian News Service as appearing on Tankabar.com:
When Maria Hinton was born in 1910, every Oneida family spoke the language of their ancestors – and at age 100, she has lived to make digital recordings in her language that can be heard on the world the Internet.
When Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee, was born in 1908 in the foothills of the Ozarks, she was only one year younger than the state of Oklahoma – and she would live to become a leading figure in America’s space race.
When Helen Maynor Scheirbeck, Lumbee, was born in 1935, the Ku Klux Klan was a powerful force in North Carolina — she would live to play a pivotal role in getting civil rights extended to American Indian people.
These highly accomplished elder ladies of Indian Country each have had a special relationship with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Together they represent some of the many American Indian elders for whom the opening of this museum in 2004 represented a watershed moment in American Indian arts, culture and achievement.
Although Ross passed away at 99 in 2008, and Scheirbeck passed away at 75 in 2010, they, like Hinton, embodied some of the values that are of great importance to the museum, including scholarship and celebration of American Indian cultures.
Hinton, who is Oneida and turned 100 last summer, was honored with the 2009 Prism Award from the museum for her work in reviving the Oneida language and teaching to successive generations of Oneidas.
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