Tuesday, April 06, 2010

In Memoriam - Chief Wilma Mankiller

She was the first woman to lead the Cherokee nation. She was an inspiration to everyone who met her, and at the age of 64 she has lost her battle with pancreatic cancer. CNN reports:
Flags flew at half-staff outside the Cherokee Nation's headquarters in Talequah, Oklahoma, on Tuesday in honor of Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to lead the Native American tribe.

Mankiller died Tuesday morning at age 64 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, Cherokee leaders announced. Her successor, Chad Smith, called Mankiller "the iconic leader of the tribe."

Mankiller served 10 years as principal chief of the Cherokee, the second-largest U.S. tribe, and became its first freely elected leader in 1987. President Clinton awarded her the Medal of Freedom, the highest U.S. civilian honor, in 1998.

She was born in Oklahoma, where most of the Cherokee had been exiled by the U.S. government in the 1830s, but moved to California with her family in the 1950s. She returned to Oklahoma in 1977 to work for the tribe's community development agency and is credited with improving health care, education and tribal governance during her administration.

"She captured what we firmly believed was true leadership," Smith said Tuesday afternoon. "She believed in our history, our culture. And she understood the position of a woman, and that is to lead her people, and she did so with grace, humility, decisiveness and with vision."

Mankiller is survived by her husband, Charlie Soap, and two daughters, Gina and Felicia, Smith said.

"We all are better people for the leadership of Wilma Mankiller," Smith said.


“Prior to my election, young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief.”
- Wilma Mankiller

“One of the things my parents taught me, and I'll always be grateful as a gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me; that for me to define myself . . . and I think that helped me a lot in assuming a leadership position.”
- Wilma Mankiller

“I don't think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future.”
- Wilma Mankiller

“The secret of our success is that we never, never give up.”
- Wilma Mankiller

“I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.”
- Wilma Mankiller



tsisageya said...

Thank you forever, BAC.

tsisageya said...

In Memoriam