Published on February 4, 2013 by Amy
Annie Dodge Wauneka (April 11, 1910 – November 10, 1997) was an influential member of the Navajo Nation as member of the Navajo Nation Council. As a member and three term head of the Council’s Health and Welfare Committee, she worked to improve the health and education of the Navajo. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 by Lyndon B. Johnson as well as the Indian Council Fire Achievement Award and the Navajo Medal of Honor. She also received an honorary doctorate in Humanities from the University of New Mexico.
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Annie Dodge Wauneka was the daughter of the Navajo leader Henry Chee Dodge and his third wife Keehanabah. Since Keehanabah had already left Chee before the birth of Annie, Chee’s first wife, Nanabah, raised Annie along with three other of Chee’s children. Having been raised by her father, a successful rancher, Annie lived a privileged life for a Navajo girl of her time. She was sent to a boarding school in Fort Defiance, Arizona in 1918, at the age of 8 where she spoke and read English. During that first year at school the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic struck the students and faculty. Annie recovered from a mild case of the flu and stayed at the school to help the school nurse care for the other student flu victims. This experience led to her later interest in public health.
After that she was sent to an Indian school in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she completed grade eleven at the age of 19. She left school to married a George Wauneka, whom she had met in school.
After the death of her father in 1946, she became active in tribal politics and became the second woman to be elected to the Tribal Council, after Lilly Neil. She was immediately appointed head of the council’s Health and Welfare Committee. She served in that committee for her 27 years in the Council and served as its head for three terms.