Let’s continue to celebrate Native American Heritage month. If you have read “Porch Music” you know that the story tells of a Seminole doll named Bettie. Betty is my mom’s name, and the book is dedicated to her, but here is another reason I chose to name the native doll “Bettie.”

Meet Betty Mae Tiger Jumper. Like fictional Ma-Ki Ebbing in my story, Betty was was mixed race, half-Caucasian and half-Seminole.

Betty was instrumental in the organization of the Tribal Government. She was on the first council that helped establish federal recognition of the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 1957. She was also the first female chairperson (1967-1971) of the Seminole Tribe. In 1970, Betty was one of two women appointed by then- President Richard Nixon to the National Congress on Indian Opportunity. She was a founder of the United South and Eastern Tribes, which became a powerful lobbying force for Native American interests.

A tribal storyteller, she authored several books, “And with the Wagon Came God’s Word” and “Legends of the Seminoles,” and narrated the video, “The Corn Lady.” Betty also received an honorary Doctorate degree from Florida State University in 1994.

How do you like her sawtooth blouse?

betty mae tiger jumper