APRIL 15, 1997


Born at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on December 11, 1910, she was one of the few surviving Prisoners of War of the Fort Sill Apaches, who weren’t freed until 1913-1914.  The Fort Sill Apaches were members of Geronimo’s band, who “surrendered” in 1886.  At age 3, her family settled near Apache, Oklahoma.  “The families weren’t allowed to live together . . . they scattered us all over . . . I guess they were afraid of another uprising.”  Cleghorn taught home economics and made traditional dolls.  She and her dolls were featured as part of the 1967 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival.  Mildred later served as tribal chairperson from 1976 to 1995.  In 1996, she became a lead plaintiff in Cobell v. Babbitt (later Cobell v. Salazar) a class action suit in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia by tribal members claiming that the Interior Department lost track of money that it was supposed to be investing and guarding for American Indians.  She died in a traffic accident in Apache, Oklahoma.

Source: “Mildred Cleghorn,” . . . On the Passing of Elders.  Retrieved 5/15/2020, http://www.dickshovel.com/elders.html#Mildred
Photo:  Indian Arts and Crafts Board, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1967.  Photograph taken by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.  Only known Source:  https://www.doi.gov/iacb/native-american-artists-featured-smithsonians-first-folklife-festival-1967-18

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