NOVEMBER 17, 1903


Mary Alice Nelson, born on Indian Island in Old Town, Maine, attended Swarthmore Prep. School but, needing money, left to dance on vaudeville and in Wild West shows.  She attended 2 years at the University of Pennsylvania before traveling west as part of a chorus line.  Molly did cameo spots as ‘Princess Spotted Elk’ and, in 1930, starred in the film documentary The Silent Enemy.  In 1931, Molly went to Paris in the ballet corps of the International Colonial Exposition and remained. The French appreciated her Native American dances.  She married journalist Jean Archambaud, and had a daughter.  In 1938, Molly was in Paris writing a book of Penobscot tales when the Nazis invaded.  Jean disappeared; Molly and daughter fled Paris to Portugal.  Back on Indian Island, she wrote children’s stories and made traditional dolls–2 are in the Smithsonian.  She died on Indian Island, February 21, 1977.  In 1986, she became a charter member of the Native American Hall of Honor in Page, Arizona. 

Source:  "Molly Spotted Elk, From Poverty in Old Town, Maine, to Fame in Paris — and Back," New England Historical Society.  Retrieved 8/7/2019,
Photo:  Author and date unknown.  Likely taken between 1920 and 1930.  Source:   use. Likely Public Domain in the US:  Pre-1/1/1925.  Likely Public Domain elsewhere where copyright term is author’s life plus 70 years or less.  Also, Fair Use:  This is being used for non-commercial and educational purposes only.  Further Fair Use justification provided upon request.  The author is unknown and the subject is deceased.  The photograph is used simply to identify the subject.  No other publicly available photographs of the deceased exist.  There is no diminishment in its value by this use.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: