Nez Perce leader Miles named Woman of the Year

Rebecca A. Miles, a 1997 WSU graduate and a leader of the Nez Perce Tribe, was announced as Woman of the Year at the annual WSU Women’s Recognition Luncheon held at the Pullman campus Tuesday.

Miles began her career in policy and leadership as a college student at WSU advocating for Indian tribes’ rights on campus. She had worked since she was a teenager for the Nez Perce Tribe in various positions and formally began her career by accepting a position with the Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Program of the tribe, first as a legal research intern and then as the communications team leader. 

Miles was elected as the Nez Perce Tribe General Council chairman at age 27.  She was re-elected four times before she was elected to the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee in May 2004. In May 2005, she was elected by her peers as the first woman chairman of the executive committee, the youngest ever to be elected to that position.

Her nominators cited her compassionate and positive attitude about life, and note that this, combined with her commitment to serving and her organizational skills and ability to work well with others, is a formula for leadership. They noted that Miles continues to be an excellent ambassador and role model for the Nez Perce Tribe, Indian Country and anyone who dares to break through barriers to achieve their dreams.

Shandra Terry, president of Standing Ovations, Inc., in Vancouver, Wash., addressed the luncheon on the subject “Remembering Rosa Parks.” Alice Coil, director of the WSU Women’s Resource Center, made opening remarks. WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and Vice President for Equity and Diversity Michael Tate assisted Teri Ockwell, award committee chair, in presenting awards.

Other women honored were Judy Allen, who received the award as a WSU alumna; Samantha Swindell, who received the award as WSU faculty member; Barbara Aston, who received the award as a WSU staff employee; Dana Murray Patterson, who received the award as a WSU student; and Vicky Owens who received the award as a woman outside WSU.

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