Late activist Susan Kelly Power will be top of mind during Native American Heritage Month

Tuesday, November 1, 2022
Late Chicago activist honored as Native American Heritage Month starts
Chicago Native American activist Susan Kelly Power, who died over the weekend at 97, is top of mind for many as Native American Heritage Month begins.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Field Museum kicked off its Native American Heritage Month programming with a performance.

"It's one of those things that we do every time we gather. We perform songs to open up any kind of event or fair," said performer David Spencer.

The museum has programming all month long highlighting Native American culture and history.

"There is a large indigenous population that still resides in Chicago, but I don't think that a lot of people know that," said Field Museum Native American Heritage Month co-coordinator J. Kae Good Bear.

This month many in the native community will reflect on the life and legacy of Susan Kelly Power. She passed away over the weekend at age 97.

"She was always one of those forces behind knowing your culture, knowing your languages and just an advocate for native issues," Spencer said.

Spencer serves as the arts and culture director of the first urban Indian center in the country, the American Indian Center of Chicago.

Power helped start the AIC in 1953 to welcome new arrivals to the city.

"She created the American Indian Center to allow folks to gather in a space and to tribally share because people where coming from different parts of the country," he said.

Even into her 90s, Power continued to serve as an advocate for her community.

"She supported everyone and everything. It was at ninety two she was marching downtown against the pipeline," said American Indian Association of Illinois president Dr. Dorene Wiese.

Power blazed a path that others now follow.

"She encouraged us all and she inspired us all to keep going, to work for our people and do whatever we can to support each other," Wiese said.