Timeline: Wonder Women – Mpls.St.Paul Magazine


When a Dakota warrior marries another woman, his first wife, Anputa Sapa Win, or Clouded Day, takes their baby and pushes off into the falls of the Mississippi River, singing her death song. A Dakota legend says her song can still be heard emerging from the rapids they call Owamniyomni.


After years of devotion to teaching African Americans at federal freedmen’s schools in the South, Julia B. Nelson joins 14 other women in forming the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association.


With unwed mothers being turned away from most city hospitals, nurse and suffragist Martha George Ripley establishes Maternity Hospital in the Harrison neighborhood. Ripley’s hospital is open to all women without exception.


Minneapolis nears the top of the nation in number of single working women. Those working the clothing mills at the Shotwell factory organize and stage the first strike by women. The local newspapers express sympathy for the “striking maidens.”


Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, a Turtle Mountain Chippewa and granddaughter of Pierre Bottineau, is appointed to the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs by Roosevelt. Bottineau Baldwin becomes a lawyer and advocate for women’s suffrage.


Years after Black singer and activist Nellie Griswold Francis first gains admiration with her acclaimed “Race Problem” speech upon graduation from St. Paul High (now Central), Francis writes an anti-lynching bill and lobbies the legislature for its passage.


A 2-and-a-half-year-old Frances “Baby” Gumm—who somewhere way over the rainbow from Grand Rapids will become Judy Garland—gets onstage with her vaudeville parents for the first time to sing “Jingle Bells.”


Ruth Nomura Tanbara and her husband are the first Japanese Americans to resettle in St. Paul after being displaced by FDR’s Order 9066. Tanbara becomes a force in her community, giving talks on her culture, serving on boards, and raising funds.   


Coya Knutson, the first woman from Minnesota to be elected to Congress, is running for her third term when DFL operatives (her own party!) run one of the most infamous tricks in political history: They ghostwrite a letter on behalf of her husband, pleading, “Coya come home.”


Not as famous as Native peers like Clyde Bellecourt or Russell Means, Patricia Bellanger nevertheless becomes known as “Grandmother AIM” after co-founding the American Indian Movement.


In the debut of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a fictional Mary Richards breaks up with her fictional boyfriend; moves out of fictional Roseburg, Minnesota; throws her hat up in the air; and makes Minneapolis a real-life star.


Ann Bancroft resigns her teaching position to take part in Will Steger’s Arctic expedition to the North Pole. And seven years after becoming the first woman to reach the North Pole, she becomes the first woman to reach both poles.


Harvard grad, Honor the Earth founder, and climate activist Winona LaDuke is tapped by Ralph Nader to be the Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee. She runs as Nader’s VP again in 2000.


Minneapolis Edison grad Ilhan Omar wins her election to the Minnesota House, becoming the first Somali American legislator in the United States. Omar is elected to the U.S. Congress two years later.


When Al Franken is forced out of the U.S. Senate after several #MeToo allegations of sexual misconduct, Gov. Mark Dayton appoints Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to the seat, which she has won twice since.


Every Minnesotan is up at dawn to watch 18-year-old Suni Lee hit every routine on the way to winning the legendary all-around gymnastics gold medal in Tokyo.

October 27, 2022

12:00 AM

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