Johnny Flynn: Wilma Mankiller, the legendary Indian leader
"Wilma Mankiller began her journey to the spirit world on Tuesday April 6, 2010 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. The legendary chief of the largest Indian nation in North America served for ten years from 1985-1995 as the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Her life and struggles can tell the story of many American Indian activists who came to social consciousness in the turbulent decades of the 1960s and ‘70s. She also served as a national voice of all Indian people, focusing on what she called “women’s issues” — health care, education, cultural and language revitalization — at a time when many tribal officials were elbowing each other out of the way to build gambling empires.

She will be missed.

Wilma Mankiller was born in 1945 in the Cherokee Nation capital in Tahlequah, Oklahoma and lived her early life on her grandfather’s allotted lands. She often joked about the significance of her family name, Mankiller, but also noted seriously that the translation into English made the name more ominous than it was in Cherokee. Spelled variously, asgaya dihi was in the old days a military or religious rank carried by Cherokee who served as guardians of the Cherokee way of life. A commensurate example from US politics would be the Congressional “whips” (who might have whipped recalcitrant members in the old days, but now count votes and keep the members walking the party line).

Wilma Mankiller lived up to her name."

Get the Story:
Johnny P. Flynn: Wilma Mankiller: On the Passing of a Legendary Leader (Religion Dispatches 4/9)

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

Related Stories:
VOA: Remembering Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee chief (4/9)
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)
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