Wilma Mankiller generates interest for Women on 20s campaign

Wilma Mankiller
The late Wilma Mankiller was the first woman elected to the position of principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Photo from University of Colorado

Wilma Mankiller was always held in high regard in Indian Country but interest in her legacy has ramped up with her inclusion in a national campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill.

Mankiller, who died in April 2010, was the first woman elected to lead the Cherokee Nation. From 1984 to 1995, she brought her people into a new era of self-determination and inspired a generation of Native women and girls along the way.

"During her two terms, she worked to create jobs, break down social and economic barriers, improve access to health care, and address the roots of both rural and urban poverty. She led her people with dignity and grace, fostering a sense of community, cooperation, and shared values," former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a joint statement at the time of her passing.

Mankiller's achievements and accomplishments are once again drawing attention as part of the Women on 20s. The group included her on its final ballot of the most popular candidates to replace Andrew Jackson, the president whose actions forced the Cherokee people and other tribes to walk the Trail of Tears away from their homelands.

"Because of strong public sentiment that people should have the choice of a Native American to replace Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, was added to the final ballot," the group wrote on its website.

With the public on its side, the group hopes President Barack Obama will start the process to put a woman on the $20 bill. The goal is have a selection in place by 2020, the centennial of the 19th Amendment that recognized the voting rights of women.

Based on prior votes, the group named Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt‎ and Rosa Parks‎ as the other finalists. There is no deadline for voting on the final ballot.

"It's possible the president will want to hear from more people," Susan Ades Stone, the nonprofit group's executive director, told The Washington Post. "We don't want to prematurely cut off people's opportunity to be heard."

Get the Story:
Meet Wilma Mankiller, the Woman Who Could Be on $20 Bills (Take Part 4/8)
Who Was Wilma Mankiller? "Women on 20s" Finalist Was A Cherokee Chief And All-Around Badass (With A Killer Name) (Bustle 4/8)
Which of these four women should be on the $20 bill? (The Washington Post 4/8)
Wilma Mankiller Finalist In Push For Woman On $20 Bill (News on 6 4/8)
Women's 'final four' chosen for $20 bill fight (USA Today 4/8)

Related Stories:
Wilma Mankiller added to final ballot to place woman on $20 bill (4/7)
Another suggestion for Indian woman on $20 bill -- Sakakawea (3/25)
Column: Replace an Indian killer on $20 bill with Wilma Mankiller (3/18)

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