Editor’s note: The Gazette’s “Stories of Honor” series is supported by MasterLube and AARP.
When Michelene Big Man adorns herself in the traditional jingle dress she made by hand, she dances alongside other female veterans of Native American decent in an act of healing. Together they’re healing from war trauma, from military sexual assault, from racial discrimination and the sexism women face throughout their military service.
JAMES WOODCOCK/Gazette Staff
After two tours to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and 22 years in the U.S. Army, Big Man, 58, received the Combat Action Badge and the Global War on Terror Service Medal.
She is the founder of Native American Woman Warriors (NAWW), the first ever all Native American Women Color Guard, which works to recognize all female veterans, particularly those of Native American descent, and helps connect them to services following their tenure with the military.
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Her work with the NAWW has given her a platform to raise awareness around social issues in military life that have lagged