Meet Sgt. Eva Mirabal/Eah Ha Wa (Taos Pueblo); Women’s Army Corps Artist

Today’s post is written by Cody White, Archivist and Subject Matter Expert for Native American Related Records.

In honor of both National Native American Heritage Month and Veterans Day, today I want to highlight through our Bureau of Indian Affairs records one of the many Natives who answered our nation’s call in times of war.

When talking of WWII comics, we often point to Bill Mauldin and his two battle-weary soldiers Willie and Joe. But there was another soldier artist from New Mexico with a comic strip: Eva Mirabal. Entitled G.I. Gertie, her strips appeared in a Women’s Army Corps (WAC) publication and featured the hijinks of a young woman soldier. Today only a few of the multi-panel strips can be found online, but that does not diminish Mirabal’s accomplishments. This is her early story as seen in Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), holdings of the National Archives.

In this saved clipping from the July 1944 issue of New Mexico, found in the United Pueblos Agency administrative files, we see Mirabal in uniform and working on both her comic strip and a mural (National Archives Identifier 565852, Box 321).

Eva Mirabal was born to Pedro and Andrea/Andra Mirabal in 1921, on July 25 according to her military records and student case file and June 18 according to the Northern Pueblos Agency birth register. 

Birth and death registers were maintained by individual BIA agencies, either in bound volumes or loose sheets, as seen here where Mirabal’s birth is highlighted (National Archives Identifier 7865405). For more information on the maintaining of birth and death records, see the History Hub blog “Birth and Death on the Reservation as seen in Bureau of Indian Affairs Records.” 

Mirabal graduated from the Taos Day School in May 1934 and entered the Santa Fe Indian School the next fall, graduating in 1940. She was active in the Girl Scouts through her senior year and was noted in an activity report to “be one of the most gracious and helpful people in the class” and “generous with her artistic ability.” According to a letter found in her student case file, she was encouraged to follow a plan of study in Taos for “non-Indian art” but could apply for entrance in the Arts and Crafts Department at Santa Fe. She chose the latter and completed one year of special vocational art under Gerónima Montoya, earning straight A’s.

Common to the Santa Fe Indian School student case files from the late 1930s are student portraits, tiny postage stamp-sized images glued onto the student jacket, scanned and enlarged here (National Archives Identifier 74605401).
Mirabal’s 11th and 12th grade transcript while at the Santa Fe Indian School, with her vocational work highlighted (National Archives Identifier 74605401)
In addition to learning drawing and painting while at the Santa Fe Indian School, Mirabal also worked in other craft areas such as beadwork and, through her senior year, embroidery, sewing, and “Native dyes.” Here are records of the sewing skills she learned and her creations in 11th grade (National Archives Identifier 74605401).
These three images were created by students at the Santa Fe Indian School, and a copy of this poster is today found in our Still Pictures Branch holdings. Mirabal’s contribution is upper left (National Archives Identifier 514626). Note the upper-right drawing by Mirabal’s classmate Ben Quintana. Already winning several art awards while still in school, his promising career was cut short in 1944 when he was killed in action retaking Leyte. Quintana was awarded a posthumous Silver Star for his heroism on that day.

Mirabal’s enlistment date varies depending on the record. The Electronic Army Serial Number Merged File, ca. 1938–1946 held by our electronic records branch and available via the Access to Archival Database site has her enlistment date as May 6, 1943. On Mirabal’s discharge certificate, a copy of which is today held by the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives and available via, her enlistment date is given as August 5, 1943, working under the military occupational code “296, Artist.” This date might reflect when she was shifted into the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), which was converted from the earlier Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) that summer. In July 1944 she was a private and by the following year she made corporal, serving in the 4000th AAF Base Unit at Ohio’s Wright Field. By her discharge on January 7, 1946, she had earned her sergeant’s stripes and had been awarded the American Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, WAAC Service Ribbon, and the World War II Victory Medal.

The United Pueblos Agency also maintained a list of service member addresses; Mirabal’s is highlighted (National Archives Identifier 565852, Box 321).
Additionally, the United Pueblos Agency collected media references to service members, such as the aforementioned magazine excerpt from the beginning of the blog and this clipping from an unspecified newspaper (National Archives Identifier 565852, Box 321).

The last mention of Mirabal in our holdings is in an undated telegram to the Santa Fe Indian School superintendent, Charles Tenney. The administrative assistant to the Southern Illinois Normal University president asked for confirmation that Eva Mirabal attended and received the American Indian Arts Certificate in June 1942.

All of the records highlighted are found at the National Archives at Denver unless otherwise noted. Bureau of Indian Affairs student case files are closed to the general public for 75 years after record creation or the death of the student; in this case, given both the age of the file and the untimely passing of Ms. Mirabal in 1968, her student case file is open. For any questions or inquiries, please email For more on Mirabal and her family’s story, see a recent book from the Museum of New Mexico Press, Eva Mirabal: Three Generations of Tradition and Modernity at Taos Pueblo, which was co-written by her son and is available widely.