By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – New Yorkers bade farewell to a well-respected First Nations Cherokee leader and artist this summer, Roslyn Eulalie Dotson, or Roz to family and friends. “A woman of integrity, an advocate and an activist” was inscribed in Roz’s memorial pamphlet. She stood and spoke for human rights on behalf of women, youth, and indigenous peoples, and will be remembered with fondness and inspiration by those whose lives she touched.
A memorial celebrating her life was held at the People’s Forum in mid-Manhattan on August 10, 2019 led by her better half, Albert Steven Cowley. Roz passed on at her home in Queens on June 10, 2019 after having been diagnosed with COPD. In 2018, she lost her daughter Regina Dotson to a sudden death, which she said, took away a part of her.
At her memorial, songs were sang and poems recited to honor Roz’s life of generosity and bravery. She spent 40 years as stage production assistant, executive secretary for entertainment attorneys, special events coordinator and print production specialist in NYC.
Roz was a roller skater for the most part of her life, performing regularly for decades at the Empire Rollerdome. She was a notable figure at the Roxy, High Rollers, Metropolis, and the Waverly. She was a founding member and a pioneering Board member of the Central Park Dance Skaters Association. She actively campaigned and negotiated to allow dancers on the Skaters Road when Mayor Giuliani attempted to bar skating in 1995. Today, the roller dancers are there to perform, as weather permits.
Roz last worked as a computer skills teacher for the American Indian Community House in New York. It was in this job that she met her soulmate, Steven. They were married in a traditional Cree wedding at the Opaskwayak Cree Nation in northern Canada in 2002.
Roz shares a multicultural heritage in her family – West Indian, African-American, Irish, and Cherokee Eastern Band from her mother’s side. She was gifted and deemed to be a Dakota Pipe Carrier.
She regularly visited the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Long Island with her sister to participate in their culture events.
Roz was generous and reached out to women’s organizations, unions, and LGBTQ community. She had twice lectured on militarism at the women’s transnational organization AF3IRM’s Summer School of Activism, founded by Filipino novelist and feminist leader Ninotchka Rosca.
As a Cherokee, Roz was a believer of the spiritual dimension of life, once photographed wearing a shirt that wrote: We are spiritual being undergoing a human experience, a quote from the philosopher Tielhard de Chardin.
A loving poem dedicated to her reads: “Do not think of me as gone – Iam with you still – in each new dawn.”