Mary Alice Nelson - Notable Native Americans
Mary Alice Nelson - Molly Spotted Elk was a Penobscot dancer, actress, and writer who was born on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation, in Maine. Her father was a governor of their Tribe. She was a performer, who also wrote and created her own music and costumes. She performed across Oklahoma and was adopted by the Cheyenne and given the name of Spotted Elk. She also lived and worked in New York and Texas. In 1931, she moved to Paris, France where she performed traditional Native American dances for French audiences. While there, she met and married French journalist Jean Archambaud. At the start of the Nazi invasion Mary and her child were forced to flee Paris and crossed the Pyrenees Mountains on foot to Spain. From there they returned to the United States, where Elk spent the rest of her life on the Penobscot Reservation. Throughout her life she was forced to contend with audiences that wanted to see Native people relegated to stereotypes, and this struggle led her to studying her own history and culture deeply.