GREAT FALLS — Great Falls is the birthplace of the National Native American Hall of Fame, founded in 2016 by James Parker Shield of the Little Shell Tribe. Shield, the CEO of the organization, created the National Native Hall of Fame to honor and bring attention to those “movers and shakers” that have accomplished a lot.
During this National Native Heritage Month, eight people were inducted into the National Native Hall Of Fame on Saturday, November 6, 2021. The new inductees have made major contributions to business, government, medicine, the arts, and more.
The 2021 inductees are:
- Dave Anderson: Choctaw/Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe, national restaurant chain entrepreneur
- U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell: Northern Cheyenne
- Joy Harjo, Muscogee (Creek): three-time US Poet Laureate
- Marcella LeBeau: Cheyenne River Sioux, noted military nurse
- Emil Notti: Athabascan, Alaskan Native claims leader
- Katherine Siva Saubel: Cahuilla/Morongo Band of Mission Indians, language preservationist and museum founder
- Ernie Stevens Sr.: Oneida Nation, government and Native organization leader
- W. Richard West: Southern Cheyenne/Arapaho, founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian
Shield traveled to the newly-opened First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for this year’s ceremony. The grand opening of the facility was held in October.
"There’s not enough attention being paid to contemporary Native Americans and their achievements and their contributions to Native America as well as America in general, and that people really don’t know that much about Native Americans since they went on the reservations in the late 1800’s and what great things a lot of them have done over the past number of decades,” explained Parker Shield.
Since starting induction ceremonies in 2018, 32 people have been inducted into the National Native American Hall of Fame, including two Montanans: Elouise Cobell and Forest Gerard, both from the Blackfeet Nation.
Festivities for the event also included a performance by Fort Belknap comedian Kasey Nicholson.