Terri Reams & Rebecca Owens

Portraits in Chickasaw Strength and Resilience

The Chickasaw people have a proud history of serving their country in the armed forces, including female warriors. These dynamic women in uniform have bravely served in the fierce spirit of their ancestors, paving the way for future generations of Chickasaw women.

Chickasaw citizen Terri Reams always knew she wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself, and answered the call to serve as an MP in the United States Army. "I had to convince people I could do it, but I had a lot of champions behind me," Terri says. "It's all in the element of surprise, is what my sergeant told me. It's not about your size, it's the element of surprise." Terri went on to serve in intelligence for several years while attending nursing school, and then became a flight nurse in the Oklahoma Air National Guard after graduation. "The military, and the Chickasaws, the tribe, is all about who you're serving, and the mission and the person standing next to you, that's what it's all about," she explains. "When I look back at Chickasaw women and I see the hardships they endured, and the strength and the courage that came from within, yes, that inspired me to be a warrior, and to be in the military, and to be a part of this tribe and continue that spirit."

Chickasaw citizen Rebecca Owens always knew she wanted to "do something big" with her life, which led her to pursue a military career and retire after 30 years as a U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. "I still want to be on the forefront," she says. "I still want to be walking a path that others can follow, and I still want to inspire." Rebecca is doing just that through her current job with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) office in Washington, D.C., where she assists fellow veterans with their disability claims. Like Terri, she draws strength from her Chickasaw ancestry and the strong women who came before her. " The Chickasaw warriors are an inspiration. Their females were fearless," she says. "They cherished elders. They cherished children. Protecting those was something that they were going to do, and lay their lives down for it."