Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa
Also known as Peqtaw-Metamoh (Flying Bird Woman), El-Issa's influential life was cut short by a tragic kidnapping and execution at the hands of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels. They took her life in 1999 while she was on a mission to help the U'wa tribe establish a school system. Born in 1957, into the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin, El-Issa lived a life on behalf of others. She worked with multiple organizations, nationally, and internationally to foster indigenous culture, advocate for women's rights, and promote native-American issues. She is known for her influence as the Chair of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples, and for her service as the Executive Director of the Fund for Four Directions in New York City where she began a new effort to revitalize and promote indigenous languages. El-Issa was honored by the Menominee Nation with a full warrior's funeral, and was given a memorial by the Cathedral of St. John Divine in New York City. She is survived by her husband, Ali el-Issa, her son, Maeh-kiw-kasic, and her legacy of placing indigenous rights into the outline of human rights on multiple levels.
"Sovereignty is that wafting thread securing the components that make a society. Without that wafting thread, you cannot make a rug. Without that wafting thread, all you have are unjoined, isolated components of a society. Sovereignty runs through the vertical strands and secures the entire pattern. That is the fabric of Native Society."