In the early decades of the 20th century, life was very hard for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in western North Carolina. Every major index of quality of life, including housing, education and health care, was deplorable, even by the standards of the time. Lula Owl Gloyne, RN (1891-1985), the first EBCI public health nurse, spent her life and career improving the health of Cherokee people through direct service, political advocacy and community partnerships.

Gloyne’s pioneering work motivated other young Cherokee women, notably Ernestine Walkingstick, RN, to follow in her footsteps. Today, Lula Owl Gloyne’s story is all but unknown outside of North Carolina, but her dedication to her people as well as the broader community continues to inspire a new generation of public health nurses.

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