Wilma Mankiller Quotes

[Describing her role:] It's like running a big corporation and a little country at the same time.




Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation, Quoted in Parade Magazine, August 18, 1991

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Wilma Mankiller
Wilma Mankiller
  • Born: November 18, 1945
  • Died: April 6, 2010
  • Nationality: Native American (Cherokee)
  • Profession: Statesman

Wilma Pearl Mankiller was an activist, social worker, community developer and the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, she lived on her family's allotment in Adair County, Oklahoma, until the age of 11, when her family relocated to San Francisco as part of a federal government program to urbanize Native Americans. After high school, she married a well-to-do Ecuadorian and raised two daughters. Inspired by the social and political movements of the 1960s, Mankiller became involved in the Occupation of Alcatraz and later participated in the land and compensation struggles with the Pit River Tribe. For five years in the early 1970s, she was employed as a social worker, focusing mainly on children's issues.

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