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JEANETTE PALIMO

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Birth Date: 1935
Birth Place: Fresnal Canyon, Arizona
Passed Away: 1988

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Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: Brick Paver - small
Location on plaza map: B4
 
Jeanette Palimo was known as an activist, on and off the Tohono O’odham Nation. A Tohono O’odham by birth, Jeanette was passionately involved in promoting and generating activities that would advance the rights of Indian people.

Jeanette was born in Fresnal Canyon village on the Tohono O’odham Nation, Jeanette became involved in tribal politics at an early age. She served on the village council, and on the Tribal Council. Jeanette’s activities saw her commuting between Sells and Tucson where she also stayed. There, she chaired the American Indian Association of Tucson, an organization she helped to start. In those early organizing days the Tohono O'odham Nation was known as Papago Tribe. Alison Hughes remembers visiting Fresnal Canyon with Jeanette during the time the tribal leaders were exploring changing the name of the Nation. Alison remembers Jeanette explaining the importance of a name change. She said words to this effect, Alison remembers: "Tucson is a Papago word. When white people came, they took our name for their city and excluded us from opportunities for development that were offered to their own people. We watched the city grow and develop around us, and we were separate. Today you see a big city which offers hundreds of jobs, and the jobs relegated to Papagos is emptying white people’s garbage."

It was important to Jeanette to let others know how Indians felt about actions that impacted her people negatively. "In South Tucson, they named a street after us. They called it Papago Street. It was a dead end street."

Jeanette supported the name change from Papago to Tohono O’odham Nation. Papago was a white man’s word that originated from the Tohono O’odham language. "It is important that we establish our own identity," she said.

In the 1970’s, Jeanette worked at the Tucson Women’s Commission coordinating a variety of tribal-related activities that included founding the Affiliation of Native American Women, and also fighting for Indian rights on behalf of students at Tucson Unified School District.

Jeanette was honored in 1985 when she received the YWCA’s "Women on the Move" award.