Native WAAC and WAC Service

Like all other American women, upon the creation of the WAAC and WAC, some Native women rushed to the closest recruitment office to enlist in service of their country.

Similar to other WACs, Native women came from varied backgrounds of education, religion, and upbringing. They also used their civilian backgrounds to perform a variety of jobs while employed as a WAC from feeding soldiers at mess halls, filing and organizing service records, driving, draft-making, mechanical maintenance, and radio operations to name only a few examples.

Eva Mirabal

"Mural for Planetarium Painted by Indian Wac." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 9, 1944, p. 13.
Eva Mirabal posing by one of her paintings circa 1944.

 

Eva Mirabal

Corporal Eva Mirabal (sometimes spelled Mirabel) of the Taos Pueblo Reservation served as a WAAC and WAC from 1943 to approximately 1947. She worked for the WAC as a full-time cartoonist and painter, and in 1944 she was commissioned to paint a mural in the Buhl Planetarium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The WAC also commissioned Mirabel to paint a mural, which she titled "Bridge of Wings," at Patterson Field, Ohio, now Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Corps's publication featured her comic G.I. Gertie, and copies of the comic strips are difficult to come by today.

Little is actually known of Mirabal's service. Before her service, she was an artist, and after her discharge, she continued her work in art until her death in 1968.

G.I. Gertie, 1944

Romancito, Rick. "Museum exhibit spotlights little known American Indian art contribution." The Taos News, May 8, 2008, p. 24. newspapers.com.
A 1944 G.I. Gertie strip created by WAC Corporal Eva Mirabal (Taos Pueblo).

Evelyn Elizabeth (Hungry) Cummings Stover

Photo from Stover's obituary in Lakota Country Times, 2011.
Tech. 4 Staff Sergeant Evelyn Elizabeth Hungry.

Evelyn Elizabeth (Hungry) Cummings Stover

Tech. 4 Staff Sergeant Evelyn (Hungry) Cummings Stover (Oglala Lakota) served as a WAC from 1944 to 1947. During Stover's early years, she grew up with her grandparents, survivors of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, on the Rosebud Reservation. She attended St. Francis Mission School until her mother's death, upon which she was adopted by her cousin on Pine Ridge Reservation.

She actually enlisted as a WAC to escape an arranged marriage, though patriotism and pride were also a factor. Following basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa, she was sent to Berlin, Germany for two years.

In her later years, Stover taught bible classes and traditional beading classes, and she often brought her grandchildren to powwows and Sun Dances in order to expose them to their culture. She passed in July 2011.

Jim Thorpe and Daughter Grace ca. 1931

Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe and his daughter, Grace circa 1931.

Grace Frances Thorpe

Grace Frances Thorpe of the Oklahoma Sac and Fox was born in Yale, Oklahoma on December 10, 1921 to famous Native American Olympic athlete James Francis "Jim" Thorpe and Iva Margaret Miller. She was also of Potawatomi, Menominee, and Kickapoo heritage.

Thorpe had two older sisters, Gail Margaret and Charlotte Marie, and two younger brothers, Carl Phillip and John.

Grace Thorpe and Family

Grace Thorpe, sisters, father, and nephew in the 1940s. Left to right: Charlotte, Grace, Jim, Gail, Michael. Taken during Grace's WAC service during World War II.

During World War II, Grace Thorpe joined the WAC, or Women's Army Corps and was stationed in the Pacific Theater. Thorpe served as a corporal in Japan and the Philippines, and was awarded a Bronze Star for her participation in the battle of New Guinea.

She operated under General Douglas MacArthur as his personal interviewer in Tokyo during the American occupation of Japan. She saw firsthand the devastation caused by the atomic bombs and was inspired later in life to crusade against nuclear dumping sites on Native reservations in the United States. Thorpe also was a proponent of tribal sovereignty and rights and was at the famed 1969 occupation of Alcatraz. Her career of advocacy continued from the 1960s until her death in 2008.

Grace Thorpe's WWII Journey

Below is a map of just a few locations Grace Thorpe was stationed from 1943 until the end of the war.

Unfortunately, there are few if any newspapers containing Thorpe's activities once she landed in what is now Papua New Guinea.

Native WAAC and WAC Service