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
"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
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
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
"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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.