Mary Annette Pember: Wilma Mankiller a humble leader

"Wilma Mankiller, a great American Indian leader has walked on. After struggling with metastatic pancreatic cancer, she died at her home April 6 in Adair County, Oklahoma, at the age of 64, surrounded by friends and relatives.

I first met Wilma in Portland, Oregon, when I was working as a staff photographer for the daily paper there. Humble and down-to-earth, she seemed more interested in hearing about me and my life as a native journalist working at a mainstream newspaper than in telling me about her accomplishments. But that was how Wilma was. Although I don’t’ see it included in any of the memorial articles, Wilma really liked Motown music. I joined her and a group of women at a Patti Labelle performance in Atlanta during the first Unity: Journalists of Color Conference. I was blown away to see a chief rocking out with the girls. She was a very real woman who saw herself as one of a community.

Concerned with others and her community, she was a class act right to end. I will miss you, Wilma, chi migwiich (thanks a lot) for breaking the trail for me and the other American Indian women who follow."

Get the Story:
Mary Annette Pember: Wilma Mankiller, Lead On (The Daily Yonder 4/15)

Relevant Documents:
House Resolution 1237 | CNO Press Release | White House Statement | DOI Statement

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