Wilma P. Mankiller
Author, Activist, and Former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
"Critical Issues Facing Native People in the 21st Century"
Wilma P. Mankiller, author, activist and former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, was born in 1945 at Hastings Indian Hospital in Tahlequah.
At age 10, her family moved to San Francisco as part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Relocation Program where she lived for two decades before returning to Oklahoma.
In 1977, she returned to Oklahoma and began employment with the Cherokee Nation. In 1983, she was elected the first female deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, and president of the tribal council. In 1987, she was elected to serve as the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, and was overwhelmingly re-elected in 1991. She chose not to seek re-election in 1995.
During Mankiller’s tenure she met with Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton to present critical tribal issues. She is the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
She has written several books including “Mankiller: A Chief and Her People,” and co-edited “A Reader’s Companion to the History of Women in the U.S.”