Tallchief persevered to become one of America’s first major prima ballerinas

Maria Tallchief

By Sophia Hysaw | Opinion Editor

     Sophia Hysaw

Elizabeth Maria Tallchief was one of America’s most popular ballerinas from the 1940s to the 1960s. Many ballet companies discriminated against Tallchief due to her Native American heritage. Some even attempted to persuade Tallchief to change her last name to something more Eurocentric, though she refused.

                     Maria Tallchief

Through her perseverance and resilience, she became prima ballerina of the New York City Ballet and was considered by many, one of America’s first major prima ballerinas. She was the first-ever Native American ballerinas to hold this rank, and when she retired from ballet she opened a ballet school in Chicago as well as spoke out against injustices and discriminations towards Native Americans.