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In inauguration day ‘Parade Across America’, female native veterans group to represent Connecticut

Hartford Courant - 1/19/2021

A virtual “Parade Across America,” featuring performances by entertainers and organizations from around the country, will begin online Wednesday at 3:15 p.m., following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The parade — which will be livestreamed at — is organized by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. Representing Connecticut in the parade are six members of Native American Women Warriors, an organization of Native American women who have served in the U.S. military.

The nonprofit was founded by Mitchelene BigMan of the Crow nation, a veteran of the U.S. Army who now lives in Florida. It has 14 members across the country from 14 tribal nations, representing all five branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Coast Guard.

The organization’s board chairman, John Francino-Quinn, lives in Shelton. Francino-Quinn said the organization was founded in Colorado, its founder now lives in Florida but none of its current members live in Connecticut.

“I told the parade committee, you make a mistake, to have us represent Connecticut. But with me being the chair of the board, and living in Connecticut, that was why they put us in Connecticut,” he said.

BigMan founded the organization because Indigenous women are overlooked in general, but more so in the military.

“Women veterans who are active, who have served, who are retired, don’t get recognition our male counterparts do, even women who served longer terms than males did. The majority of us served over 20 years,” she said.

BigMan said the women do color guard presentations, speaking engagements and, since the coronavirus pandemic started, traditional Native healing dances for people living on reservations.

“We’ve been asked by people who reached out to us through Facebook, saying my grandfather, my uncle, my father is in the hospital and he doesn’t look good. We use Ojibwe jingle dresses, which are prayer dresses,” she said. The dances are recorded on video and sent to the people who requested them.

Francino-Quinn said he does not know at what point in the performance the Native American women will appear.

The organization is always looking for new members. Details are at

Susan Dunne can be reached at


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