Former Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation Chairwoman Alyce Spotted Bear passed away in Bismarck August 13 after a bout with cancer. She was 67. She was given the Nueta name of “Lead Woman”—Numakshi Mihe.
She was elected to serve as chairwoman in November 1982 and served until March 1987. During her administration, she accomplished many things, but two in particular stand out. Her administration changed how tribal government worked—they revised the constitution allowing the people of the Three Affiliated Tribes to vote to reassert the tribal business council’s authority to exercise jurisdiction over the reservation and its people.
Also, following the flooding of the tribe’s homelands, the Spotted Bear administration worked for just compensation and were able to get the Joint Tribal Advisory Committee Bill introduced into Congress just before her term ended. Other administrations were able to build on what they accomplished.
Spotted Bear was foremost an educator. She earned her bachelor and master’s degrees in education from Dickinson State College, and Pennsylvania State College, respectively, and completed coursework for a Ph.D. in education at Cornell University.
She had worked at all levels of education including pre-school, elementary, secondary, adult education and college.
Most recently, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Indian Education. Her term on this committee was for the term of his office.
At the time of her passing, she was vice president for Native American Studies at Fort Berthold Community College in New Town, North Dakota.
“She lived up to that name [Lead Woman] as a beloved teacher, compassionate educator, vibrant mentor, humanitarian, cultural historian, gentle being, astute administrator, kind grandmother, humble woman, wise leader and so much more in all aspects of her life,” says her obituary.
“Her death leaves a huge void in the lives of her family, relatives, friends and colleagues. She loved and was loved by many. At the same time, Lead Woman leaves all the people she influenced with many happy, fun-filled memories because she simply enjoyed life and made life better for anyone who stepped into her circle,” it also says.
“She left this world much too soon.”