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Lady Chief tells the amazing story of how one determined young woman helped her poor and disadvantaged Native America tribe become one of the wealthiest tribes in America. In 1952, Vyola J. Olinger joined the Tribal Council of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, a little-known band of Native Americans who have lived in the area now known as Palm Springs, California, since “time immemorial.” Two years later she was elected chairman (a term she preferred over chairwoman). At the time, the Agua Caliente didn’t have very much. But there was one thing they did have that could be very valuable – land! From the moment Vyola joined the Tribal Council, she was determined to make that land pay off for all members of the tribe. Clearly, her job wasn’t easy. Back then, few women took part in business or politics. At the same time, the men she had to work with in Congress often looked down on her. They thought she was too young to be taken seriously. Besides, she was a woman. And an Indian! Even the male members of her own tribe questioned her ability. They didn’t think she was tough enough to lead the tribe. Yet that didn’t stop Vyola. She and her Tribal Council accomplished many important goals. They wrote a constitution for the tribe. They got U.S. Congress to change an old law that prevented the Agua Caliente from earning more money from their land. They also made sure all members of the tribe had an equal share of the reservation. How did she do it? Her answer is both simple and inspiring. “I was successful because I didn’t have the word ‘can’t’ in my vocabulary,” she says. This easy-to-read biography is one of a series of Common Core Biographies for Young Readers, published by Curious Kids Press. It features Think About It questions at the end of each chapter that are aligned with Common Core objectives for reading informational texts. In addition, the text includes key vocabulary words linked to a back-of-the-book glossary and a timeline of both the subject’s life and the major events in the history of the Agua Caliente. For more information, contact info@curiouskidspress.com.


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