From the OPINION Page of INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, VOLUME 19, ISSUE 39
WED., MARCH 15, 2000
Family and friends around the world recently memorialized Ingrid Washinawatok on the one year anniversary of her tragic loss.
At one event in New York City's American Indian Community House, several hundred people came out over two days. A one-year feast was held; more than a dozen spoke about Ingrid's superlative human quality.
Ingrid Washinawatok is a true American Indian martyr. Highly-loved, highly-skilled, highly-dedicated, she died while bravely confronting the violence of war-torn Columbia on a mission to help out a Native people.
Reared in a family at the forefront of the Menominee Restoration movement, she had matured into a dedicated warrior for Indian sovereignty.
As one of her friends said, "Ingrid walked the walk."
She was very special. She was a born activist who loved the people. She never spoke a bad word of anyone; she commanded mammoth respect and affection. She knew the issues, stood up in the trenches, cooked all day with the elderly women, attended international forums, leveraged funds from foundations for Indian projects, created major projects, such as the Indigenous Women's Network and the Fund for the Four Directions.
Ingrid Washinawatok, in her 41 short years upon the Mother Earth, was one superbly positioned Native activist who followed her heart while moving in bold and certain, practical steps to create opportunities for Indian people.
Deeply rooted in tradition, Ingrid was a modern woman; a powerful woman. She was a woman of projects and of projection. Young, gifted, incredibly energetic and physically strong, she was influential in many quarters.
People, from tribal elders to international figures like Desmond Tutu and Fidel Castro, were always immediately impressed by her. One speaker put it this way: "The personal and the political blended completely in Ingrid Washinawatok."
Ingrid never judged anyone, another speaker said. Someone else said she was always for the People. She had a unique quality of love. All who spoke referred to Ingrid's ability to make each and every one feel special. Someone else declared: "Ingrid would have made a formidable elder."
Ingrid Washinawatok should be remembered by all Native and non-Native people who value and love the People and Mother Earth. Not only in her own Menominee Nation, but all young people all over the world should be told about this courageous fighter for Indian rights -- how she chose to live her life, what she struggle for and died for.
Ingrid Washinawatok is as close an example of a true martyr as we have seen in this modern era. This is not lightly stated. Many times she risked her life in human rights missions n behalf of Native activists and community leaders throughout North and Latin America.
It was reiterated at the New York memorial that through all her work she was specially effective in being, as large numbers of people called her a "best friend." Chiefs, ambassadors, foundation people, major movie personalities, tribal brethren, many, it turns out, were paying attention to her work. One speaker said she threw 40 pebbles in the lake, creating huge numbers of ripples. The ripples continue overlapping.
The spirit of Ingrid was strong, very big; it remains so. All who knew her felt it. A beacon of light, leadership illumination emanated from her.
Suddenly, she was gone, killed by cowards. One year later, the elders announced through her nephew that the Thunderbeings have adopted her on the other side. She has helpers. She will help the Mother Earth and the People.
Ingrid Washinawatok, Menominee activist, was a superlative among superlatives. Indian Country Today makes special note on the year of her passing. We note that relatives, friends, supporters in the many fields of endeavor have committed to sustaining her projects, her vision and memory.
Great good wishes for such a good idea. The Silvercloud Singers, Community House Drum, created a song for Ingrid's farewell feast. "We will miss you; Flying Eagle Woman; you will live in our hears forever," they sang.
With the founding of the Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice and Sovereignty, Ingrid Washinawatok flight of power flashes across the western sky.