Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Lessons from Indigenous women who lead their nations

There are so many "firsts" in our generation that sometimes they fly by without notice. Let's change that for this International Women's Day and note that there are now five Indigenous women who serve as heads of state, including the president of the most populous nation on the planet.

Here are the five women who are the personal representatives of sovereignty. Droupadi Murmu is the president of India – the largest country in the world with 1.43 billion citizens. Her official biography says she is both the youngest president and the first from a tribal community, the Santal. Hilda Cathy Heine from the Marshall Islands (she is both the 8th and the 10th president of the islands.) Heine is a former university chancellor and the founder of a women's rights organization. Canada's Governor General Mary Simon is Inuk. New Zealand's Cindy Kiro is Māori. And Dominica's President Sylvanie Burton is Kalinago.

In the United States, the head of state is the president, who also leads the government. But in other countries the head of state is the representative of the sovereign. Think King Charles in the United Kingdom. The head of state can be royalty, appointed by the government, or elected for a term.


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