Beyond Wonder Woman: 12 Mighty Female Warriors

Buffalo Calf Road Woman (1850s – 1879)

(Image credit: Smithsonian Institution)

Storytellers of the Northern Cheyenne, one of the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains, gathered in 2005 in Montana to tell of a female Northern Cheyenne warrior named Buffalo Calf Road Woman, who struck a decisive blow in the famed Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2016.

During the battle, U.S. Army forces led by George Armstrong Custer were overwhelmingly defeated by Native American warriors representing the Northern Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho nations.

Buffalo Calf Road Woman was credited with dealing the blow that killed Custer, according to the storytellers. But this wasn't her first display of bravery on the battlefield. Earlier that year, at the Battle of Rosebud Creek, she charged into the fray to rescue her fallen brother. Her courage inspired the Cheyenne to dub the episode, "The Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother." 

Yaa Asantewaa (circa 1840 – 1921)

(Image credit: Ariadne Van Zandbergen/Alamy)

Yaa Asantewaa emerged as a force to be reckoned with during the European colonization of west Africa at the dawn of the 20th century, in a region formerly governed by Asante tribal families, now known as Ghana.

Asantewaa was the keeper of a ceremonial golden stool, an important symbol of power for Asante rulers. In 1900, when the British colonial governor Sir Frederick Hodgson demanded that she surrender the stool for him to sit upon, Asantewaa refused. She called upon the Asante to rebel against the British, leading the uprising for their independence, known as the War of the Golden Stool, the Yaa Asantewaa Museum in Ghana wrote on their website.

"If you, the men of Asante, will not go forward, then we will. We, the women, will. I shall call upon my fellow women. We will fight! We will fight till the last of us falls in the battlefields," Asantewaa told Asante representatives at a secret meeting, the museum reported.

The rebellion was defeated by the British, and Asantewaa died in exile in Seychelles, in 1921.

Mindy Weisberger
Live Science Contributor

Mindy Weisberger is an editor at Scholastic and a former Live Science channel editor and senior writer. She has reported on general science, covering climate change, paleontology, biology, and space. Mindy studied film at Columbia University; prior to Live Science she produced, wrote and directed media for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Her videos about dinosaurs, astrophysics, biodiversity and evolution appear in museums and science centers worldwide, earning awards such as the CINE Golden Eagle and the Communicator Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in Scientific American, The Washington Post and How It Works Magazine.