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Mankiller’s family gives thanks

WASHINGTON – The family of Wilma Mankiller, who passed away April 6, is expressing gratitude to the thousands of people who reached out in her final days.

Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, received an outpouring of adulation upon her death after a battle with pancreatic cancer, including statements from President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton.

Thousands of tribal citizens also paid tribute, with some attending her memorial service in Tahlequah, Okla. April 10. Some who knew she was ill also sent along spirited wishes to her before her passing, and some sent personal notes to her family.

“Thank you for your time and caring in sending a message of thanks to Wilma Mankiller for her life of kindness and leadership,” her family wrote in a message after her memorial.

“Your words were passed on to her for as long as she could appreciate them. They also were – and will continue to be – shared with her family, friends and the Cherokee Nation.”

The family noted that many of Mankiller’s own words – as well as tributes to her from the Cherokee Nation, Obama and others – are being archived at

“There you can also send a message to Wilma’s family and stay connected to the work that will continue to be done in her honor,” according to the message.

Mankiller was survived by her husband, Cherokee community organizer Charlie Soap, two daughters, Felicia and Gina, and a large extended family.