Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa was born in 1957 into the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin. Ingrid’s Indian name translated to “Flying Eagle Woman.” The raptor was a traditional symbol of war, and Ingrid was a lifelong warrior ~ for peace.
She spent her teens fighting to have her tribe’s federal status restored before taking what she learned on Wisconsin’s Menominee Reservation around the world. Ingrid helped build networks of indigenous peoples to protect Native cultures and communities from social erasure, economic crises and environmental destruction.
“As we destroy the ability of the earth to sustain us, we lose our ability to address the chronic needs of the poor, the hungry, and the landless.”
— Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa
She worked with multiple organizations, nationally, and internationally to foster indigenous culture, advocate for women’s rights, and promote native-American issues. She is known for her influence as the Chair of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and worked with many organizations to promote indigenous people’s cultures and rights. As executive director of the Fund for Four Directions in New York City, she worked in particular to revitalize indigenous languages. Washinawatok was one of three Americans kidnapped and executed in the remote highlands of Colombia by Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels, while on a mission to help the U’wa tribe set up a school system in February 1999.
Ingrid’s legacy of peaceful resistance and social justice lives on through The Flying Eagle Woman Fund for Peace, Justice and Sovereignty. The fund was created in honor of her memory and to continue her work for indigenous people. Ingrid’s husband, Ali El-Issa, is President and CEO of the Fund.