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Wilma Mankiller
Stories of inspiration from Smart Girl Stories across the globe. A Tribute to Wilma Mankiller: A Revolutionary Leader

A Tribute to Wilma Mankiller: A Revolutionary Leader

When we think of a leader, our mind might immediately conjure up images of fierce, intimidating men commanding the attention of others. But many women have made significant contributions to society with their leadership skills, and one such woman is Wilma Mankiller. Born in 1945 in Oklahoma, Wilma Mankiller rose to become the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, leading her people with compassion and integrity for a decade. Let’s take a closer look at her remarkable life and accomplishments.


Wilma Mankiller faced many challenges in her life, including poverty and discrimination, but she never allowed those obstacles to define her. Instead, she worked tirelessly to improve the lives of her people. She started her career in activism by participating in the Occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969, fighting for indigenous rights. Later on, she worked for the Cherokee Nation in various capacities, leading educational and community programs. She became a powerful voice for Native American rights and, in 1985, was elected Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Two years later, she became the Tribal Chief, the first woman to hold this position.


Throughout her tenure as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Mankiller implemented numerous initiatives that transformed the lives of Cherokee citizens. She increased access to health care, improved education, and worked to revitalize the Cherokee language. She also spearheaded economic development projects that created jobs and fostered entrepreneurship. Her leadership style stressed collaboration and diplomacy, leading to significant progress for the Cherokee Nation. She served as Principal Chief until 1995 when she decided not to run for re-election.


Mankiller’s leadership extended beyond the Cherokee Nation, too. She was a prominent figure in national politics and advocated for Native American rights on a broader scale. She was appointed to the United States Commission on Civil Rights by President Clinton in 1993, and she served as an advisor to multiple presidential administrations.


Mankiller received numerous accolades throughout her life for her contributions to society. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian recognition in the United States. She was also awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize, which recognizes contributions to peace and development.

Wilma Mankiller’s Legacy

Wilma Mankiller’s legacy as a revolutionary leader is powerful and inspiring. She stood up for her people and worked to make meaningful changes that improved their lives. She was a fighter for indigenous rights, equality, and positive progress in society. Mankiller will be remembered for her unwavering strength, compassion, and leadership. Her story serves as an example of what we can achieve when we stand up for what is right and lead with integrity. May her story continue to inspire people around the world to make positive changes for their communities.

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Founder, Smart Girl, Survivor, Champion of womens rights and kids rights


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