“From the beginning I was a fighter and protector.”
Rebecca (Becky) Price’s leadership stems from her family roots and cultural heritage. A member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, Becky is part of the Bear clan who are known for their medicinal and protective skills; therefore, it isn’t surprising that Becky’s life has been devoted to providing and improving community-based health services for the tribe.
Becky observes that her life has been interesting and “was going everywhere” until she found herself in a situation that changed her direction. While working in a factory, Becky got her hand caught in a drill press and realized that she could be maimed for life or worse. She then went back to school to pursue her degree in nursing. She began her medical career at Memorial Hospital before returning to the reservation to address “issues I could take care of and treat.”
Her foray into community outreach and nursing began in a one-room office space that was filled with cockroaches and with the roof falling in. Becky likes to “start things and get them going,” so she jumped at the challenge. The status of tribal health services today is a result of Becky’s hard work as she is “the only person from the tribe who has worked a nurse and retired from that position from the beginning.”
From this one room office building, Becky helped develop a facility that offers a range of health and wellness services under one roof and at no cost to members of the tribe. She has also been instrumental in developing the award-winning Special Diabetes Program that provides treatment and education on all facets of diabetes.
Embracing the protective role of her clan, Becky also worked with the Women’s Domestic Violence program of the tribe because “things happen that women don’t want to talk about.” Her goal with the program has been to raise awareness and help victims of domestic violence heal.
Throughout all her work, Becky has included a strong community education component because she “loves education” and desires to “educate our own people and help them learn.” She has also helped to develop a tribal archive and storytelling project to help preserve the tribe’s history and languages.
After retirement Becky was elected to the Tribal Council where she works with the team and politicians to help better the tribe. In addition to lobbying politicians on issues of import to the tribe, she has testified before Congress.
Information compiled from oral history collected by the Michiana Women Leaders Project
Rebecca was a 2017 CMWL honoree.