Maria Tallchief

Elizabeth Maria Tallchief (born January 24, 1925) was the first Native American to become prima ballerina. From 1942 to 1947 she danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, but she is even better known for her time with the New York City Ballet, from its founding in 1947 through 1965. Known professionally as Maria Tallchief, her family called her Betty Marie. She was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma to a father who was a chief in the Osage Nation and a Scots-Irish mother. Of her childhood she wrote, "I was a good student and fit in at Sacred Heart (Catholic school). But in many ways, I was a typical Indian girl — shy, docile, introverted. I loved being outdoors and spent most of my time wandering around my big front yard, where there was an old swing and a garden. I'd also ramble around the grounds of our summer cottage hunting for arrowheads in the grass. Finding one made me shiver with excitement. Mostly, I longed to be in the pasture, running around where the horses were...". She enjoyed music, dancing and ballet. Her desire to pursue a career in the arts was a challenging dream for a Native American child in those days.

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