A few days after Wilma Mankiller walked on, another loss rippled across Indian Country. Minnie Two Shoes, an Assiniboine Sioux from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana, passed away April 9 after a battle with cancer.

Minnie was a publicist for the American Indian Movement from 1970-76. She was a founding member of the Native American Press Association in 1984 and remained active through the group’s evolution (to include broadcasters) into the Native American Journalists Association in 1990. Minnie served on the NAJA board for several terms. As a writer, she specialized in stories on water rights, air quality and environment.

In a video of her at NAJA’s 25th year celebration in Albuquerque last summer, Minnie told a student reporter what those 25 years meant to her.

“It makes me realize, that as part of what years ago we said we wanted, was to create journalists to come and take our place… well, it’s only going to take about half of you guys,” she said jokingly. “Half of you persons are taking my place. Oh! Sad! And I’ve got some really tiny shoes to fill.”

Minnie was always joking, at least until it was time to work. Then she turned her humor into a sword.

"She could stir emotion by pointing out society’s cruel injustices, but lampoon them in the next breath with her hilarious quips. It was her way of pushing people out of their comfort zones and making them laugh about it. In the process, she provoked them to think about issues that mainstream America would rather ignore," said Karen Lincoln Michel, a past president of Unity: Journalists of Color.

I first met Minnie at the Unity: Journalists of Color conference nearly six years ago. Then I worked with Minnie when she was a NAJA board member the year I was on the host committee for the NAJA conference in Tulsa in 2006. For all her jokes, Minnie was serious about serving Indian Country through her writing and her point of view.  She saw through bullshit and was quick to call it what it was. Minnie was Minnie and had the audacity to live who she was, as she was.

I may not be able to fill your really tiny shoes, Minnie, but I do hope that I may continue along the path you have set and have the audacity to be my best self.

Donadagohvi, Minnie.

Lisa Snell
Native American Times