Remembering Modern Cherokees' First Female Chief, Wilma Mankiller


Wilma Mankiller, 64, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation in modern times, whose leadership on social and financial issues made her tribe a national role model, died April 6, 2010, at her home in Adair County, Okla.

Ms. Mankiller, principal chief of the Cherokee from 1985 to 1995, tripled her tribe's enrollment, doubled employment and built new housing, health centers and children's programs in northeast Oklahoma, where most of the 200,000 or so tribal members live. In 1990, she signed an unprecedented agreement in which the Bureau of Indian Affairs surrendered direct control over millions of dollars in federal funding to the tribe.

President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, and she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.

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