Margaret Behan

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Margaret Behan
Red Spider Woman
Margaret Behan 350.jpg
Margaret Behan blessing a event
Arapahoe/Cheyenne leader
Personal details
Born (1948-07-04) July 4, 1948 (age 69)
Indian Hospital, Clinton, Oklahoma
Children 3
Parents Harry Behan and Daisy Behan (nee Fletcher)
Education St. Patrick's Mission School, to age 10. Concho Government Boarding School to age 13. Chilacco Government Boarding School, Jr. College in Weatherford, Oklahoma and Brigham Young University
Known for The Founder and CEO of the privately incorporated organization "Cheyenne Elders Council".
Nickname(s) Maggie
mentioned in Father Powell's "Sweet Medicine"

Margaret Behan is a Native American woman who is Southern Arapaho-Cheyenne on her mother's side, and Northern Arapahoe/Northern Cheyenne on her father's side.[1] and a fourth generation descendant of an ancestor who was a survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre.[2] Behan is the Founder of the Cheyenne Elders Council - a group of native healers and teachers.

Behan is a former member of the International Council of 13 Grandmothers.

Early years[edit]

Behan is "of the Kit Fox Clan of the Cheyenne Nation of Oklahoma on her mother’s side, and on her father’s side she is half Northern Cheyenne and half Arapahoe of the Rabbit Lodge."[1] She was one of eight children. Her parents were migrant farmworkers.[3] Behan claims that she was prayed for and a Peyote ceremony was arranged before her conception.[4]

Family life[edit]

Behan had 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and one great grandchild. [5]

Work as an artist[edit]

Margaret's mother-in-law, noticed how well Margaret worked on a pair of beaded moccasins and suggested that she might want to work in clay. Margaret felt so confident in her new career as an artist that she resigned from her job in 1982 and took up her new artistic career full-time. Her work is mentioned in four Folk Art books.[6] She later moved to Taos, New Mexico due to the properties of the clay there.[6]

Addiction work[edit]

Margaret suffered from alcohol addiction as a young woman. She feels that she drank in order to 'fit in' with her friends. With the aid of addiction clinics, and more of her grandparent's ceremonies, Margaret was able to become free of her addiction.

As a result of this experience, Margaret trained to be a Licensed Substance abuse Counselor and with her traditional teachings, has led retreats for children and co-dependants of alcoholics[7] to help other First Nation people that had found themselves in a similar position. Historical trauma commonly leads to alcohol, drug, and behaviour issues.[8]

The Cheyenne Elders Council[edit]

Margaret is the founder of "The Cheyenne Elders Council", formed in 2007-2008,[9] with Behan as the sole member, and has the mission to, "Heal Our Own Oppression."[10] She had moved to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, where her father was from, and "was troubled when she heard one of her people say that Cheyenne youth would have to save themselves," saying "They were not getting any kind of influence or teaching from the elders."[3] "A project Behan and the Cheyenne Elders Council completed as part of the 11th council is the creation of the T’sistsistas’s Sacred School in Behan’s home. There, healers of the tribe will teach Cheyenne healing ways to the tribe’s youth."[11] Behan says, “We need to bring our Cheyenne identity and pride back to the young people, teach them the traditional ceremonies and language.”[12]

She was interviewed by AARP International Magazine in October, 2011.[13]

In 2006, a chapter in the book "Grandmother's Council the World", features Behan and the Native American Church, founded by her grandparents. This movement, (illegal at the time), allowed the combining of traditional ceremonies which then allowed the First Nation people's to stay connected to their traditional beliefs.

In 2012, Behan hosted "the 11th Gathering of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers ... on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation July 26 to 29," at which the riders commemorating the Northern Cheyenne Exodus of 1878 shared stories of their journey.[11][14]"The Ride Home"[15] "The gathering ... [was] set up as a traditional Cheyenne encampment", with "thirteen teepees, one for each grandmother."[16] In attendance was a great-great-great grandniece of General Custer, who made a "formal apology to the Northern Cheyenne," and a great-great-granddaughter of Brig. Gen. Anson Mills, who also offered an apology.[3]

A two-part video of attendees from Vashon Intuitive Arts describing the event is available on the Internet Archive.[17][18]


  1. ^ a b "Wolf Connection to Join 13 Indigenous Grandmothers in Montana". Indian Country Today Media Network. 2012-07-24. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  2. ^ Harcourt-Smith
  3. ^ a b c Mayrer, Jessica (2012-08-09). "Making amends among Montana's Northern Cheyenne". Missoula Independent. Missoula, MT. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  4. ^ Schaefer (2006) p.35
  5. ^ Schaefer (2006) p.36
  6. ^ a b Six Directions
  7. ^ Future Primitive
  8. ^ Schaefer (2006) p.38
  9. ^ NCCS
  10. ^ Sacred Studies
  11. ^ a b Olp, Susan (July 29, 2012). "Indigenous Grandmothers group comes to Lame Deer". Billings Gazette. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  12. ^ "Historic Horseback Ride Commemorating Cheyenne Exodus of 1878 Departs on June 1, 2012.". Indian Country Today Media Network. 2012-05-27. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  13. ^ "An Interview with Grandmother Margaret Behan: Indigenous Grandmother's Lessons on Living Your Best Life". AARP International: News Makers. 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  14. ^ "Cheyenne Exodus Historic Horseback Journey Captured in Photographs". 
  15. ^ {{ | url = | work =Indian Country Today Media Network | accessdate =2013-06-16 | date =2012-07-28 | url = }}
  16. ^ "11th International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers July 26th-29th, 2012 Gratitude Brings Freedom In honor of Grandmother Margaret Behan". A Cheyenne Voice. Colstrip, Montana. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  17. ^ Asterino, Brenda. "SHE-Grandmothers' Gathering part one (Montana Rally)". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2013-06-21. 
  18. ^ Asterino, Brenda. "SHE-Grandmothers' Gathering part two (Montana Rally)". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2013-06-21. 


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