Wonderful Women Wednesday: Lucille Dawson

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Lucille Dawson (Narragansett) was the coordinator of the Native American Area at Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife through its 12-week-long Bicentennial Festival in 1976.

Dawson, anthropologist Dr. Thomas Kavanagh, and their team spent two years organizing presentations for the summer-long Bicentennial Festival. At the same time, they planned two smaller festival programs in 1974 and 1975. In previous years, festival coordinators recruited participants and performers directly, but with so much to plan, Dawson relinquished much of the control to tribal leaders, whom she relied on to enlist participants and design programs.

While working for the Institution, Dawson was also a committee member of the Native American Rights Fund, a nonprofit legal organization devoted to the protection of Native American rights. She later served as a program officer for the Office of Child Support Enforcement and was tribal historian of the Narragansett Indian Tribe.

Dawson stands to the right of two White people. Her hair is braided and she is wearing a hat. There

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