Bertha “Birdie” Parker Cody: Archeologist

Bertha Parker Cody was a Native American archeologist and actor.

Bertha “Birdie” Parker Cody was one of the first Native American female archeologists. Archeologists study people from the past. They often dig in the ground to find objects people left behind long ago. Her mother was a Native American actor. Her father was an archeologist. Birdie was reportedly born in a tent at one of her father’s dig sites. As a child, she performed with her mother in shows like “Pocahontas” with the Ringling Brothers.  

When she was older, she began working with her uncle at an archeological excavation site in Nevada. As the secretary and cook, Birdie helped by taking photographs, notes, and cataloging the team’s findings. She learned from the archeologists around her. 

In 1930, at 23 years old, Birdie discovered something amazing. She found the skull of an extinct giant sloth alongside several ancient human tools. These tools helped show when humans started moving into the area.  This discovery led to many others, and she wrote about them in a museum journal. 

Birdie went on to become an Assistant in Archeology at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, California. There, she studied the cultures, customs, and habits different groups of Native Americans.  

Show business came calling again after Birdie married the actor “Iron Eyes Cody.” She began advising television shows and movies that included Native American characters. Birdie educated them on Native American culture and dress and ensured that the characters were accurately portrayed. 

What Do You Think? How could Birdie’s work influence the world we live in today? 

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian Libraries/Science Source