Bold Women: Lucille Otter, dedicated fighter for wilderness and voting rights
Growing up with four brothers may have made Lucille Trosper extra strong. She was also whip-smart, and at a young age, she tuned in to racism. Lucille, a tribal member, was born in 1916 in Ronan, on the Flathead Reservation. As a girl, she hunted and fished with her brothers, a way of life she held to the rest of her days. In the 1970s, Lucille would channel her love of nature into helping establish the Mission Mountains Tribal Wilderness with her brother Thurman and others.
After high school, Lucille picked up important skills, including registering voters, through jobs with the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. She married Philip Roullier, had a daughter and became someone whom important politicians — like Senators Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf — wanted to see when they visited the reservation.
Lucille believed fervently in political empowerment. She made it her mission to register every tribal member she could to vote. At election time, she labored to reverse decades of Indian voter suppression, urging people to the polls with messages like, “Politics, one way or another, controls your destiny. Choose yours today,” and, “[Indians will be] left in the dust if you don’t get ahold of what’s going on in our government.”
After her first husband died, Lucille married Laurence Otter. She passed away in 1997. Lucille Otter was a dedicated fighter. Through will and skill, she made good things happen on the Flathead Reservation.
Celebrating Women's History Month, Bold Women of Montana is brought to you by Mountain Press, publisher of Bold Women in Montana History, and is produced by Beth Judy, Jake Birch and Michael Marsolek. Theme Music by Naomi Moon Siegel.