Lisa Tiger

Santa Fe, New Mexico and Eastern Oklahoma

I was walking through the Minneapolis airport when the side of my foot caught the floor and dragged. I thought, “What the heck?” From that point, I began to decline. My motor skills slowed, my ability to relax was null and void, and walking became next to impossible. My sister, Dana Tiger—a famous Indian artist—was experiencing the same exact symptoms. On July 5, 1992, I learned I was HIV-positive; in December of 1999, I received two new diagnoses: AIDS and Parkinson’s.

I have always been fit. I was an advanced gymnast and an arm-wrestling champion in high school. After high school, I was head coach of the Muskogee Boxing Club. My father, Jerome Tiger, was on his way to becoming a world-renowned artist when he was shot dead at the age of 26. I wanted to see how long I could exercise the equivalence of a mile. I went from March 3, 2007, to Father’s Day 2022, before I missed my first mile. As of 2024, I have been keeping track of my mileage day by day on Facebook and as of February 4, I have gone 507.99 total miles for 2024.

Watching the Davis Phinney Foundation Ambassadors on YouTube led me to want to be a part of DPF family. When I tested positive for HIV, my first question for my doctor was, “Does this mean I won’t be able to have children?” I feared being alone for the rest of my life and having to die alone with AIDS. While on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, I met and fell in love with four Lakota Sioux siblings, ages 3, 5, 6, and 7. In February 1996, I petitioned the tribe for custody and was granted temporary custody. I later received a call from an ex who asked me if I still wanted to have a baby. We artificially inseminated and got our baby girl who we call Cricket. She is a freshman at Stanford. Although my life has been fraught with difficulties, I still consider myself to be blessed beyond belief, especially with this wonderful new opportunity.

The most exciting part of serving as an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation is making a difference in the lives of those who live with Parkinson’s. Being blessed to be born into three American Indian tribes—the Muscogee Creek Nation, the Seminole Nation, and the Cherokee Nation—I am passionate about learning more and educating others to the ways of my ancestors.

A perfect Sunday would include a recent passion of mine, Brazilian Jujitsu. However, my dojo rests on Sunday, therefore I cannot grapple on the Sabbath. An ideal Sunday would include a family hike up Sun Mountain, Santa Fe, and delicious food after at my grandson’s momma Ka and mamma Jaime.

This Chief Seattle quotation is suitable for our cause:

“The earth does not belong to us. we belong to the earth. all things are connected like the blood that unites us all. we did not weave the web of life. we are merely a strand in it. whatever we do to the web. we do to ourselves.”

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