Della Warrior
Della Cheryl Hopper

1946 (age 77–78)
NationalityOtoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians, American
Occupation(s)American Indian education, museum director, tribal chairperson, college president
Known forPresident of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and chairperson/chief executive officer for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe

Della Warrior (born 1946[1]) is the first and only woman to date to serve as chairperson and chief executive officer for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe. She later served as the president of the Institute of American Indian Arts, finding a permanent home for the institution as well as helping to raise more than one hundred million dollars for the institution over 12 years. Warrior was inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame in 2007.[2]

Since 2021, she has served as President and CEO of the Multi-Indigenous Collaborative for Action (MICA) Group, a Native-led nonprofit.

Early life

Della Cheryl Hopper[3] was born in 1946[4] in Pawnee, Oklahoma, and grew up in Red Rock, Oklahoma, with her mother and stepfather. An enrolled citizen of the Otoe–Missouria Tribe of Indians, she is also of Muscogee descent.[5] The family moved around frequently, allowing Warrior to have the opportunity to live in cities such as Shawnee, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Enid, Ponca City, Dallas, Wichita, and Los Angeles. Warrior began her education at Pawnee Indian School and averaged approximately two schools per year up until about sixth grade. During her high school years, Warrior attended six different schools.[2]


After graduation, Warrior left to attend Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, with the intention of pursuing a medical degree. The summer before her junior year, Warrior attended a workshop at the University of Colorado. This experience broadened her pride in her native heritage and sparked her interest in that field. Her junior year, she changed her major to sociology and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1966.

Warrior received her master's degree in education from Harvard University in 1971.[2]


Directly out of college, Warrior became the director of social services for Head Start for six counties in Kansas. Later in 1971, she became the Director of Indian Education for Albuquerque schools and served until 1987. The district contained 117 schools with approximately 3,300 Indian students from over 100 tribes. She became the first and only (to date) female Chairman of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe from 1989–1992.[4] In this position, Warrior dealt with issues of roads/transportation, environmental concerns, health, and public safety.[6] From 1993 to 1998, Warrior served the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) first, as Acting Director of Development, and then as Director of Development. In 1998, Warrior became the President of the Institute of American Indian Arts and served in this role until 2006. She established a permanent campus for the institution after a 38-year period of temporary housing. Warrior increased funding by three hundred percent, helping to raise over one hundred million dollars over a 12-year time period.[7][8][9]

In June 2013, Warrior was selected as the Director of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, becoming the first woman and the first Native American to serve as the museum's director.[10] She retired in 2021, having created a significant expansion of the Museum's education department and its remote programs, and having overseen more than 30 exhibitions, including the revision of the Museum's core exhibit, Here, Now and Always which opened in 2022.[11]

Following retirement from MIAC, Warrior became President and CEO of the Multi-Indigenous Collaborative for Action (MICA Group), an organization she co-founded with Wilma Mankiller in 2006 and which recently administered a $10 million Cultural Resource Fund for cultural heritage preservation projects for tribes and tribal communities.[12] Since 2006,

Personal life

Hopper married Clyde Warrior (1939–1968) of the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma in 1965. She has three daughters: Mary Martha Warrior, Andrea Immogene Warrior and Gabriella Kathleen Honahni. [3]

Achievements and service

Other roles that Warrior has filled include:[2]



  1. ^ Abatemarco, Michael (8 March 2019). "Cultural freedom fighter: Museum of Indian Arts & Culture director Della Warrior". Pasatiempo. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Nykolaiszyn, Juliana (July 16, 2007). "Oral history interview with Della Warrior". Inductees of the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame Oral History Project. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b Cowger, Thomas W. (2009). "Warrior, Clyde (1939–1968)". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Archived from the original on February 12, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  4. ^ a b McNutt, Michael. "Della Cheryl Warrior: Indian Leader Struggles To Bring Tribe Independence". NewsOK. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  5. ^ "President Biden Announces Key Appointments to Boards and Commissions". Forth. 14 July 2023. Retrieved 2023-08-12.
  6. ^ Cantrell, Steve (28 December 2014). "Interview in El Palacio with Della Warrior". LinkedIn Corporation. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  7. ^ "IAIA Builds Cultural Center Despite Cuts". Tribal College Journal. February 15, 2000. Archived from the original on April 7, 2015. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  8. ^ "Leader in Indian Education is Named Director of New Mexico Museum of Indian Arts and Culture". Hutton Broadcasting. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  9. ^ "2007 Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame". Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  10. ^ "Della Warrior, Otoe-Missouria, to lead New Mexico museum." June 14, 2013. Accessed October 3, 2017.
  11. ^ Abatemarco, Michael (June 25, 2021). "Revisions and reimaginings: MIAC Executive Director Della Warrior steps down". Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  12. ^ "MICA Group Inc". GuideStar. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  13. ^ Peters, Gerhard; T. Woolley, John. "Executive Order 13270 – Tribal Colleges and Universities". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  14. ^ Nykolaiszyn, Juliana. "Oral History Interview with Della Warrior -- Inductees of the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame Oral History Project". OSU Digital Collections. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  15. ^ Abatemarco, Michael (March 8, 2019). "Cultural freedom fighter: Museum of Indian Arts & Culture director Della Warrior". Santa Fe New Mexican Pasatiempo. Retrieved 1 January 2022.
  16. ^ "Guardian Award Winners". Association of Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Retrieved 1 January 2022.