Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation
The first woman elected as Chief of the Cherokee Nation was Wilma Pearl Mankiller. She was born November 18, 1945 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Her father was a full-blood Cherokee and her mother was of Dutch and Irish ancestry. Wilma served as Principal Chief from December 1985 – 1995.
Wilma Mankiller was motivated to become active in Cherokee tribal affairs due to several life events that she discusses in detail in this interview recorded in 2009.
Wilma was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1986, The Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1994 and received the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1998.
Up until her diagnosis with pancreatic cancer in late winter/spring 2010, she continued to write, speak and teach American Indian Culture proudly living on Mankiller Flats, in rural Adair County, Oklahoma, on her grandfather’s land.
Interview with Wilma Mankiller
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: August 13, 2009
Date Published: October 13, 2016
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.
Tags: Wilma Mankiller, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Cherokee Nation, Mankiller Flats, Trail of Tears, Cherokee History, Indian Territory, Allotment, Alcatraz, Federal Government Relocation Program, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wounded Knee, Anti-War Movement, The Bell Project, Ross Swimmer