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Sherman Alexie | John Bennett Herrington | Lionel Bordeaux | Naomi Lang | Wilma Mankiller | Ben Nighthorse Campbell | Ben Reifel

Naomi Lang

The first Native American woman to participate in the Winter Olympic Games (2002), Naomi Lang was born in Arcata, California in 1978. From her father’s heritage she is a member of the Karuk Tribe of California. Her Indian name is “Maheetahan,” meaning “Morning Star.”

At three she began training at the Redwood Concert Ballet in Eureka, California and appeared as a “bon-bon” in the Nutcracker at age six. She has danced with the Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen Michigan and as a member of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company of Michigan.

Lang attended a performance of the Ice Capades and decided to learn to skate. She began skating lessons at the age of eight and started ice dancing at twelve. With her first partner, John Lee, she won the 1995 U.S. Novice dance title and a 1996 Junior silver medal. In 1996 Peter Tchernyshev of Russia wrote her a letter saying he liked her skating and was looking for a new partner. Lang traveled to Lake Placid, NY to meet Tchernyshev and they had an impromptu tryout. They have been partners ever since.

The partners have become the 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003 U.S. Ice Dance Champions. They moved to Hackensack, New Jersey where they trained for the 2002 Winter Olympics with renowned coach and choreographer Alexander Zhulin. The couple competed at the Olympic games in Salt Lake City. While finishing 11th, they plan to remain eligible through the 2005/2006 Olympic season to pursue their dreams of Olympic medals.

After her ice skating career is complete Naomi hopes to become a veterinarian.