TRAVERSE CITY — A family slideshow presentation illustrated a woman’s journey from childhood in Peshawbestown to the region.

The Old Mission Peninsula Historical Society hosted Linda Woods, a citizen of Ottawa’s Grand Traverse Band and Chippewa Indians, on Thursday to learn about her “journey from Peshawbestown and back home.”

Woods illustrated a summary of her life as an Anishinaabe Kwe living in her tribe’s village, serving in the Air Force, and her community role as a social worker and cultural consultant for over three decades.

Throughout his life, Woods has won many titles and accomplishments, but his journey of reconnecting to his Kitchi Wiikwedong Odawa identity has been about honoring his roots.

Born in Detroit in 1943, Woods was given to her nokomis, or grandmother, Susan Yanot Miller to raise in Peshawbestown until she was 6 years old.

“It was an act of love,” Woods said, as her mother intended to place her up for adoption, but instead brought her to the village where she grew up.

At that time, GTB was not a federally recognized tribe and life was very different on the reservation than it is now.

Woods said many, if not all, homes had no plumbing or electricity.

During the 1900s, Odawa was in survival mode, living in extreme poverty and through historical trauma, Woods explained.

Her childhood was filled with many hardships, but Woods noted the beautiful closeness of family structures in Anishinaabe families like hers, and grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles, and cousins.

After graduating from Suttons Bay High School in 1961, Woods enlisted in the United States Air Force where she served until her honorary discharge in 1966.

“It was tough being a person of color on the service,” Woods said.

She served during Vietnam’s turbulent era and experienced racism and prejudice while stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier Parish, Louisiana.

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, Woods said all that changed in the system was “the removal of the signs.”

Shortly after leaving the service, Woods said much of her trauma began to surface and as it increased she began to drink more and quickly fell into same toxic relationship with alcohol as his parents.

In 1969, Woods got sober and didn’t look back, she said. She began to reconnect with her Odawa culture, with the help of her community. This led to Woods’ commitment to helping other Native Americans with addictions and helping promote recovery and healthy lifestyles in their communities.

Woods said generations of historical and contemporary trauma faced by Native Americans have led to disproportionate rates of alcoholism compared to any other race of people.

She moved to California to raise her sons and in 1979 earned her undergraduate degree in social work, where her three-decade tenure began as an addiction counselor serving Native American communities on the West Coast. . {p dir=”ltr”}Woods returned to her native lands in northwest Michigan in 1990, and after two years traveled from Michigan to California, to earn her master’s degree in social work from the University of San Jose State in California.

She then partnered with the Michigan Intertribal Council, where she served as a cultural consultant for over 20 years to help produce “Access to Recovery Anishinaabek Healing Circle – Understanding our Journey”, which promotes education and understanding of Native Americans. . culture of Michigan.

In 2008, she officially retired from working as the Director of Addiction (and Mental Health) for the Odawa Indian Bands of Little Traverse Bay.

Woods said her life quickly changed direction to serve her community in a different way when a spiritual gift came to her in 2011.

During the ceremony, he was presented with an eagle’s head with the life story of Migizi (bald-headed eagle). During the ceremony, it was determined that the eagle head was a female eagle. Woods said in his culture, eagles are highly honored and the messenger between the Anishinaabe and their creator.

“I felt honored to receive this eagle,” Woods said. With the support of five pipe wearers, she described her intentions to create a staff for women veterans – and with the help of community members, veterans and Anishinaabek artisans, she created one.

Woods continued to be the guardian of Mashkawiz Ode Ogitchidaa Kwe, or Strong Heart Warrior Woman, Woods calls her Migizi for short. An eagle staff is a flag and carries many responsibilities, Woods explained.

“I just tied the 60th feather on him,” Woods said. Each of the hanging plumes has a story and is depicted for honor.

Most notably, at the time of receiving this eagle head, Woods did not know of any female veteran who carried an eagle staff. She became the first female veteran in the United States to create, maintain and wear an Eagle Staff, as previously highlighted by the Eagle Record. Since 2012, she has been invited to bring this Eagle Staff to many locations in the United States and throughout Michigan, under the support and guidance of a prominent Chief Veteran.

In 2019, she traveled to France for ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day – the June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy.

Woods was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor in 2021.

In an act she called a “labor of love,” Woods said she would continue to honor her role for her community as the storyteller and guardian of Mashkawizid Ode Ogitchidaa Kwe.

She said it’s important to honor the roots of all who came before and those who will come after.

“It was tough being a person of color on the service.” Linda Woods


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