Friday, September 16, 2011


Annie Dodge Wauneka

Birth: 1910 -
Death: 1997
Born In: Arizona, United States of
Died In: Arizona,
United States of America
Achievements: Science
Educated In: Arizona
Countries Educated In: United States of
Schools Attended:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Boarding School, University of Arizona
Worked In: Arizona, New Mexico,
District of Columbia
Countries Worked
In: United States of America

Annie Dodge Wauneka, tribal leader of the Navajo Nation and public health
activist, worked tirelessly to improve the health and welfare of the Navajo
Tribe and reduce the incidence of tuberculosis nationwide. Born in 1910 in a
traditional Navajo hogan, Wauneka was raised by her father, one of the
wealthiest men of the Navajo Tribe. While taught Navajo history and culture,
Wauneka also gained a general education. When she was eight, while attending a
government-run school on the reservation, a tragic event occurred which helped
shape the rest of her life. An influenza epidemic struck. Thousands of Navajos,
including many of Wauneka’s classmates, died. Wauneka escaped with only a mild
case that left her resistant to the disease. Thus she was able to care for those
who were too ill to feed themselves. After graduation and her marriage to George
Wauneka, Annie continued to travel with her father, observing the poverty and
disease that plagued most of the Navajo. She studied public health and then,
realizing that the best way to change the standards of health and sanitation
among tribal members was from within, Wauneka gained election in 1951 to the
Tribal Council, the second woman ever so elected. During her three terms in
office, Wauneka led the fight against tuberculosis. She wrote a dictionary to
translate English words into Navajo for modern medical techniques, such as
vaccination. Her weekly radio broadcasts, in the Navajo language, explained how
modern medicine could help improve health among the Navajo. She also worked on other health problems including better care for pregnant women and new babies,regular eye and ear examinations, and alcoholism. She continued working in her community on health issues until her death in 1997. She helped improve housing and sanitation conditions and convinced her tribe to adopt many modern medical practices and avail themselves of hospital care, when needed. She also served on the advisory boards of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. In 1963, Wauneka became the first Native American to receive the
Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ladies’ Home Journal selected her a Woman of the Year in 1976. In 1984, the Navajo Council designated her “The Legendary Mother of the Navajo Nation.” All recognize that through her efforts in education and health, the lives of every Navajo, as well as the nation at large, have been

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