Celebrating Women’s History Month

Celebrating Womens History Month - Jeannette Rankin


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Throughout Montana’s history, many strong, intelligent, active, and interesting women have contributed to the Big Sky Country. In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are three Montana women who have made a difference.

Jeannette Rankin

Politician Jeannette Rankin was born on a ranch near Missoula in 1880. She attended the University of Montana, after which she moved to New York to study social work.

Rankin soon became an organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association, assisting in several states’ suffrage campaigns. In 1914, Rankin returned to Montana to help lead her state’s suffrage movement to victory.

Two years later, she became the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Progressive Republican. Rankin supported legislation that sought to provide for maternal and infant health care and used her position to publicize the grievances of Montana miners and farmers.

Defeated in a bid for the Senate in 1918, Rankin spent the next 22 years working for peace organizations, such as the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the Women’s Peace Union, and the National Council for the Prevention of War.

She also became an active grassroots organizer for the Georgia Peace Society. In 1940, at the age of 60, she once again won election as a Republican from Montana to the U.S. House of Representatives. She died in 1973, at 93. In 1983, the Montana legislature honored Jeannette Rankin by having her statue placed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy was born in Helena, Mont., in 1905. She was raised in Radersburg during early childhood, before moving to Los Angeles with her mother. Trained as a dancer, Loy devoted herself to an acting career following a few minor roles in silent films.

Her role as Nora Charles in the 1934 movie The Thin Man helped elevate her reputation as a versatile actress, and she reprised the part in five more Thin Man movies. Loy’s career began to slow in the 1940s, although she appeared in several films between 1950 and 1981, including a lead role in the hit comedy Cheaper by the Dozen (1950). In 1981, she retired from acting.

Besides her movie career, Loy served as assistant to the director of military and naval welfare for the Red Cross during World War II and as a member-at-large of the U.S. Commission to UNESCO. In March, 1991 she received an Honorary Academy Award in recognition of her life’s work both onscreen and off. Loy died in 1993 at the age of 88.

Minnie Two Shoes

Minnie Two Shoes was a journalist, a Native American rights advocate, and the mother of five. A Sioux, she was born in 1950 on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana.

Two Shoes was a publicist for the American Indian Movement from 1970 to 76. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Community Development from Native American Education Service College in Fort Peck in 1983. Two Shoes helped found the Native American Press Association in 1984, which became the Native American Journalists Association  in 1990.

She co-founded the Wolf Point Traditional Women’s Society and edited two magazines, Native Peoples and Aboriginal Voices. Two Shoes studied at the University of Missouri Columbia School of Journalism from 1987 to 1990 and was a co-founder of the Native American Student Association. She was a contributing writer for News from Indian Country and a columnist for Red Road Home.

She is often cited as being instrumental in uncovering information on the 1975 murder of AIM activist Annie Mae Aquash.

Two Shoes died of cancer in 2010. MSN

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