Ingrid Washinawatok, O'Peqtaw-Metamoh, (Flying Eagle Woman) passed into the Spirit World on March 4, 1999 at the age of 41. Ingrid was born on the Menominee Reservation on July 31, 1957, the daughter of the late Honorable James Washinawatok and Gwendolyn (Dodge) Washinawatok. She was a loving mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, a proud member of the Menominee Nation, and an internationally known humanitarian who fought for Indigenous peoples' rights throughout the world.
All through her lifetime, Ingrid was an activist when it came to promoting Indigenous cultures and traditions. She had a true passion for her profession as executive director of the Fund for Four Directions (NYC, NY) where she planned and organized grant-making policies and initiated a new effort to revitalize Indigenous languages.
Ingrid was recognized as the 1998 Indian Woman of the Year (NYC) and recently selected by the Rockefeller Foundation as an Outstanding Leader in the National Generation Leadership Program. The Rockefeller Foundation is a philanthropic organization endowed by John D. Rockefeller for the well-being of humankind throughout the world. She received an award in 1998 from the Northstar Foundation who honored Outstanding Women. The Northstar Foundation memorializes the historical escapes by the African American slaves who followed the Northstar to freedom.
Ingrid was co-chair of the Indigenous Women's Network where she voiced concerns for Native women through activism, literature and community work. The Indigenous Women's Network was founded to assist women of the younger generation through education of the struggles women have encountered historically.
She was an active member of the Indigenous Initiative for Peace, convened by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberto Menchu and organized and participated in the first, second and third State of the World Forums. In addition, she served as an official translator for the International Indigenous Conference and was a delegate for the Commission on Human Rights and the Working Group on Indigenous Populations. She was chair of the Native Americans in Philanthropy Organization and served on the board of directors for the Sister Fund, the National Network of Grantmakers, and on the Selection Committee for the Letelier Moffit Human Rights Award.
Ingrid was an award winning lecturer who spoke on behalf of the rights of Indigenous peoples regionally and internationally. She co-produced the film documentary, "Warrior." She received numerous awards from the Asian American, Hispanic American and African American communities for her repeated efforts and promotion of each community. In January, 1999, she published an article titled, "Sovereignty is More than Just Power" in the internationally recognized magazine, Indigenous Woman.
Ingrid is survived by her husband of over 17 years, Ali El-Issa, Brooklyn, NY; her son, Maeh-kiw-kasic, Brooklyn, NY; her mother, Gwendolyn Washinawatok, Keshena; and sister, Gina Washinawatok, Keshena; many aunts and uncles: Sid Dodge, Keshena; Dick (Sibby) Dodge, Keshena; Peter (Lorena) White, (Keshena); Bill (Rose) White (Keshena); Constance Goetz, Keshena; Carol Dodge, Keshena; Glenda Tahmahkera, Phoenix, AZ; Sandra King, Shawano Lake; Faye (Tony) Waupochick, Keshena; Kathy (Jim) Kaquatosh, Keshena; nephews all from Keshena: Daniel Blackowl, James "Okwaho" Washinawatok, Meyakerew Kaakak, "Little Dan" Blackowl, and Brad Blackowl. Ingrid had numerous relatives that held a very special place in her heart. Ingrid is sadly missed by fellow tribal members of the Menominee Nation.
Ingrid was preceded by her father, the late Honorable James Washinawatok of the Menominee Nation Supreme Court. Ingrid carried on the legacy of compassion and kindness initiated by the activism and causes that her father actively supported throughout his lifetime.
Ingrid touched the lives of many people who will remember her positive energy, charismatic personality and radiant enthusiasm to make the world a better place. She made many friends throughout the world in her lifelong struggle to promote culture, traditions and human rights. We will all miss her energetic and zealous presence. She was a dynamic warrior and an inspiration for Natives throughout the world. She will be remembered as a remarkable woman who served her people and others selflessly in life.
Internment was held at her sister Gina Washinawatok's home and next door to Ingrid's homesite, along the Wolf River off of Highway 47, on the south side of the road into the Land of the Menominee Pow wow grounds.