Elizabeth Diffendal, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Diffendal, Ph.D.
Tacoma, WA
College, In honor of, In memoriam, Moving west, Native american ties, Pendleton blanket, Sickness and health

My modern Pendleton blanket was given to me by a very special young woman… Angelina Nockai (Dineh Nation/Hispanic)... who had the spirit of an artist and the endurance of a true warrior. In the early 1980s Angelina moved from her home in Omaha, Nebraska, to finish her college education at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Soon after her graduation, Angelina began her work as an Indian Education Coordinator in the public schools and she gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Nicole.

Angelina was diagnosed with breast cancer when Nicole was very young and began an extraordinary and courageous battle with cancer that lasted over twenty years, until Nicole had graduated with a Master’s degree in Music Education and had her own family and new baby, Lilly Mariposa, who carries her grandmother’s spirit into the future.

Through long periods of cancer treatment, Angelina continues to work without flagging and was an outstanding leader on behalf of the many Native children who were touched by her patient, positive, respectful (and fun) advocacy in the Clover Park school district. I remember her telling me about the student who was often tardy… Angelina visited her home and learned that her grandmother, with whom she lived, was still in bed when it was time to go to school. The girl didn’t have anyone to wake her up. Angeline bought her an alarm clock and followed up to make sure she got to school on time. One by one, over more than twenty-five years, she touched young people as well as her family and friends with her encouragement, her good humor, her courage and her respect for Native cultures.

Angelina had a keen ability to observe, to pay attention to detail and to create beauty around her through her beading and artful approach to living… assets that she used masterfully in her life. She was an inspiring role for me and for my son, Steven Diffendal, who loved and used this blanket and who learned much about patience from Angelina. These lessons served him well when he had his own challenge with cancer as a young man.


By weaving the memories associated with this Pendleton blanket into this project, I know that Angelina and Steven’s positive spirits and gentle humor will add to its beauty.