Wilma Mankiller

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Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Pearl Mankiller (Cherokee: ᎠᏥᎳᏍᎩ ᎠᏍᎦᏯᏗᎯ; November 18, 1945 – April 6, 2010) was an American Cherokee activist, social worker, community developer and the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.


  • Europeans brought with them the view that men were the absolute head of households, and women were to be submissive to them. It was then that the role of women in Cherokee society began to decline. One of the new values Europeans brought to the Cherokees was a lack of balance and harmony between men and women. It was what we today call sexism. This was not a Cherokee concept. Sexism was borrowed from Europeans.
    • Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993

Northern Arizona Commencement Speech (1992)[edit]

In So Here I Am: Speeches by great women to empower and inspire (2019)

  • There still exists in this country many negative stereotypes about black people, Latin people, and Asian people. God knows there are terrible stereotypes about Native Americans; these have to be overcome before we can move forward.
  • I would urge all of you who are here today, both graduates and families, to examine the extent to which we hold those stereotypes about one another. And finally, I would hope my being here and spending just a couple of minutes with you today would help you to eliminate any stereotypes you might have about what a chief looks like.

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