A tribal member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa Chippewa Indians, Linda M. Woods came from an Ottawa Indian village in Leelanau County, Michigan. She served in the United States Air Force during the turbulent Vietnam Era in the deep south and experienced racism and prejudice more intense than previously in Michigan. Following her military service, Woods became a substance abuse counselor, earning a Masters of Social Work in 1994 from San Jose University in California.
Long before Woods earned her MSW, she was committed to helping Native Americans deal with addiction to promote recovery and healthy lifestyles in their communities. Woods partnered with the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan to help produce “Access to Recovery Anishnaabek Healing Circle—Understanding our Journey,” which promotes education and understanding of Native American culture in Michigan. She served as a cultural consultant for the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan for 20 years and continues to serve Native American communities by teaching storytellers to use a digital movie format to share their stories.
Though Woods retired in 2008, with over 30 years of experience in social work, she continues to serve the Native American community. Most notably, Woods is the first female veteran in the U.S. to carry an Eagle Staff, an esteemed symbol in Native American culture. Woods carries the Eagle Staff on behalf of all women, especially her fellow women veterans who have served our nation.