Patricia Ann McGee, 1926-1994

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Woman Category: Politics & LeadersWoman Tags: Educator and Spiritual Leader

  • HerStory
    Patricia Ann McGee, 1926-1994

    A Native American tribal leader, served as president of the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe.

    Patricia Ann Vaughn was born in Holbrook, Arizona. She was half Yavapai and half Hualapai. When Patricia was 14 years old, her mother passed away, and she and her brother moved to live with their grandparents – the chief and chieftess of the Yavapai-Prescott Tribe. She attended the Bureau of Indian Affairs school, and after graduating from Prescott High School, she studied at Haskell University in Lawrence, Kansas. She majored in anthropology and took courses in psychology and public speaking at the University of Kansas. In her 20’s, she married Ernest McGee, a Korean War veteran. For the following years, she worked in the Bureau of Indian Affairs finance division and then in public health at Peach Springs, Arizona.
    At the age of 40, McGee followed her grandmother’s advice and joined the tribal government, where she worked as its secretary-treasurer. Two years later, she was elected as Vice President of the tribal government, serving for two terms. In 1972, she was elected president, a position she held for 20 years – from 1972 to 1988 and then from 1990 to 1994. As president, her focus was on economic development and educational programs. She managed to secure government funds for a tribal community center that would include a library and will preserve the language and the tribal’s cultural history, and she co-founded the Yavapai Language Program. She obtained millions of dollars to build a resort and conference center on the reservation, leased tribal lands for shopping centers, and negotiated for a water settlement with the government, which provided the tribe water allocations. In 1992, she signed the first agreement permitting gaming in Arizona.
    In addition to her role as president, McGee was a member of the national and state Inter-Tribal Chairman Association of Arizona and served on the State Civil Rights Advisory Board as well as on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.

    “You can’t have self-esteem and self-determination without self-knowledge”

    “You can’t have self-esteem and self-determination without self-knowledge”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • At the age of 45, she returned to school and earned a degree in social anthropology.
    • The Time, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal wrote about her accomplishments improving her tribe’s economic prospects.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * Inducted into the Arizona Women's Hall of Fame (2006)

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Patricia Ann McGee, 1926-1994

    Woman Tags: Educator, Spiritual Leader

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  • Citations and Additional References:
    Wikipedia page.
    Arizona Women's Hall of Fame website.