NPR: Remembering Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee chief
"Wilma Mankiller, whose life encapsulated some of the traditions and the changes that are part of contemporary Native American culture, died on Tuesday. She was 64.

In 1985, Mankiller became the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, a position she held for a decade. As chief, she headed the Tribal Council, the ruling body of the 72,000-member Cherokee Nation, and was principal guardian of Cherokee customs and traditions.

During her tenure, membership in the Cherokee Nation tripled and its budget grew to $150 million a year. Mankiller put much of that money back into health care and educational resources for the tribe.

In a 1993 interview on Fresh Air, Mankiller described how a 1979 car accident that nearly killed her completely changed the way she viewed her own life. She says that accident helped her adopt the Cherokee approach to life.

"I think the Cherokee approach to life is being able to continually move forward with kind of a good mind and not focus on the negative things in your life and the negative things you see around you, but focus on the positive things and try to look at the larger picture and keep moving forward," Mankiller explained. "[It] also taught me to look at the larger things in life rather than focusing on small things, and it's also awfully, awfully hard to rattle me after having faced my own mortality ... so the things I learned from those experiences actually enabled me to lead. Without those experiences, I don't think I would have been able to lead. I think I would have gotten caught up in a lot of nonsensical things.""

Get the Story:
Remembering First Female Chief Of Cherokee Nation (National Public Radio 4/7)

Also Today:
Gloria Steinem reflects on friendship with Wilma Mankiller (The Oklahoman 4/8)
Local residents recall inspiration of Wilma Mankiller (The Joplin Globe 4/8)
Wilma Mankiller, beloved leader and friend, passes on (Indian Country 4/8)

Relevant Documents:
CNO Press Release | White House Statement | DOI Statement

Related Stories:
Nation mourns loss of Wilma Mankiller, ex-Cherokee chief (4/7)
Tulsa World: Wilma Mankiller led Cherokees to prominence (4/7)
Muskogee Phoenix: Wilma Mankiller leaves a great legacy (4/7)
Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee Nation chief, passes on (4/6)
Former Cherokee chief Mankiller diagnosed with cancer (4/3)