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Native American Women in the US Armed Forces   |  In her own words...Lieutenant Colonel Brenda Finnicum   

Native American Women in the US Armed Forces

During Memorial Day weekend, May 26, 2003, the Women's Memorial will open a new exhibit on Native American Women in the US Armed Forces.

  Shirley Chase, summer intern with the Office of History and Collections, attending an ExxonMobil event, summer 2002.  

Shirley Chase, Dineh from Dilcon, Navajo Nation, Arizona, served as an intern with the Women's Memorial Office of History and Collections last summer (2002) and laid the groundwork for this exhibit.

Ms. Chase conducted 10 oral history interviews with diverse Native American women who gave their perspectives on why Native American women chose to join the armed forces, how their cultural backgrounds and gender influenced their experience, what they did in the military and how this profession affected their lives.(See www.volunteerfairfax.org to learn about this Exxon Mobil-sponsored internship program.)

  LTC Brenda Finnicum  

Lieutenant Colonel Brenda Finnicum was among those interviewed. She is a member of the Lumbee Nation and the only woman in her family to join the military. Lieutenant Colonel Finnicum joined the Army Nurse Corps in November 1978 and retired in December 2000 after 20 years active duty and two years in the reserves. She is a lecturer and maintains a web site dedicated to finding and sharing the history of Native American women veterans.

Read edited highlights of Lieutenant Colonel Finnicum's interview, explaining the interaction of her Lumbee heritage and her gender in the decision to join the Army Nurse Corps in 1978.