May 08, 2020

Udall, Murkowski Announce Senate Passage of Resolution Honoring Native Women

Resolution celebrates achievements in civil rights, business, law, medicine, science, language revitalization, and more

WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, announced the Senate passed the resolution he led with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to celebrate and honor the successes of Indigenous women across the country. The resolution recognizes the heritage, culture, and contributions of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women in the United States, highlighting the importance of promoting equity, providing safety, and upholding the interests of strong, diverse women.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women are stepping up to serve their communities in a variety of ways, from providing frontline services like healthcare and public safety to representing their communities in the highest levels of government service and Tribal leadership. Their dedication during this crisis is just the latest example of the truly remarkable contributions of Native women throughout our Nation’s history,” said Udall. “I am proud to work with Senator Murkowski on this resolution to honor the work and accomplishments of so many groundbreaking Native women – including Native New Mexican women like Santa Clara Pueblo’s Floy Agnes Lee and Ohkay Owingeh’s Esther Martinez. As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I will continue to fight for legislation and policies that honors the legacy of their work and ensures future generations of Native women have the tools, rights, and opportunities they need to thrive.” 

“We have been working hard to shine a light on the disproportionate amounts of violence experienced by Indigenous women across the U.S. But as we continue our work to make right those inequities, it is equally important that we recognize the great accomplishments, heritage, culture, and contributions of Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian women,” said Murkowski. “Earlier this year, we unveiled a new $1 coin featuring Elizabeth Peratrovich, who is deeply admired for her legacy as an Alaska Native civil rights leader. Women like Elizabeth Peratrovich and how they paved the way for future generations should be remembered and celebrated.”

Udall and Murkowski have introduced a similar resolution honoring indigenous women every year since 2018. 

In addition to Udall and Murkwoski, the resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The full text of the resolution can be found here.

Resolution excerpts: 

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women contribute to their communities, Tribes, and the United States through work in many industries, including business, education, science, medicine, literature, fine arts, military service, and public service. 

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women have demonstrated resilience and courage in the face of a history of threatened existence, constant removals, and relocations. 

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women are the life givers, the culture bearers, and the caretakers of Native peoples who have made precious contributions, enriching the lives of all people of the United States. 

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women broke down historical gender barriers to enlistment in the military, including

(1) Inupiat Eskimo sharpshooter Laura Beltz Wright of the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II; and

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women have contributed to important scientific advancements, including

(1) Floy Agnes Lee of Santa Clara Pueblo, who—

(A) worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II; and

(B) pioneered research on radiation biology and cancer; 

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawai-ian women have regularly led efforts to revitalize and maintain Native cultures and languages, including

(A) Tewa linguist and teacher Esther Martinez, who developed a Tewa dictionary and was credited with revitalizing the Tewa language; and

(B) Native Hawaiian scholar Mary Kawena Pukui, who published more than 50 academic works and was considered the most noted Hawaiian translator of the 20th century;

- Whereas American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women have played a vital role in advancing civil rights, protecting human rights, and safeguarding the environment, including Elizabeth Wanamaker Peratrovich of the Tlingit Nation, who

(1) helped secure the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 of the Alaska Territory, the first anti-discrimination law in the United States; and

(2) was recognized by the Federal Government on the 2020 $1 coin honoring Native Americans and their contributions.