VOA News: Remembering Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee chief

"DOUG JOHNSON: This past Tuesday, the Cherokee Nation and the United States lost a powerful leader. Wilma Mankiller, former chief of the Cherokee Nation, died of cancer at her home in Adair, Oklahoma. She was sixty-four. Faith Lapidus tells about her life.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Wilma Mankiller was the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation, based in Oklahoma. She served as principal chief from nineteen eighty-five to nineteen ninety-five. During that time, fifty percent more people registered as tribe members. Miz Mankiller led efforts to build more houses and health care centers and expand educational possibilities for her tribe.

Wilma Mankiller was born in nineteen forty-five in Oklahoma. She was one of eleven children. Her mother was Irish and Dutch. Her father was Cherokee. They lived on family land called the Mankiller Flats. Her last name was an old term of respect for Indian warriors who guarded tribal villages. In nineteen fifty-seven, the family moved to California under the Bureau of Indian Affairs Relocation Program. Wilma Mankiller lived in and around San Francisco for the next twenty years. She went to college and became an activist for Indian rights. She also studied community development. And she married and gave birth to two daughters.

In nineteen seventy-seven she separated from her husband and returned to Oklahoma to serve the Cherokee Nation.

Wilma Mankiller faced many personal and health problems. In nineteen seventy-nine she was seriously injured in a car accident. She had seventeen operations during an eighteen-month recovery. Miz Mankiller also had a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis and fought breast cancer and lymphoma."

Get the Story:
Remembering Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller (Voice of America 4/8)

Also Today:
Former Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller 'was a role model to many of us’ (The Duluth News Tribune 4/9)
Delegates from Oklahoma plan acclaim for Mankiller (The Oklahoman 4/9)

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

Related Stories:
Sue Masten: Wilma Mankiller stood strong for tribal nations (4/8)
Details for Wilma Mankiller memorial on Saturday, April 10 (4/8)
NPR: Remembering Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee chief (4/8)
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)