Woman Warrior: Mitchelene Big Man Turns to Traditional Dance to Heal the Pains of Life and War

Mitchelene Big Man, 49, is a survivor of sexual assault in the military. She is a mother who was often overseas when her own children lived with their grandmother, and is now a parent to four other children from her reservation, raising them at her home in Pueblo, Colorado, with her husband, also a veteran.

And she is the founder of the Native American Women Warriors (NAWW), a color guard of female veterans from Indian Country. They perform a jingle dance, which some tribes regard as a healing rite traditionally performed by women. The members of the NAWW perform to heal from injuries that cut deep and they dance for others, such as Piestewa, a Hopi who loved the dances of her tribe. Since the group’s appearance at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, invitations for the group have poured in.


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