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Mankiller, Wilma (1945–)

Mankiller, Wilma (1945–)

Native American activist and tribal leader. Name variations: Wilma Pearl Mankiller. Born Nov 18, 1945, in Tahlequah, OK; dau. of Charlie Mankiller (full-blooded Cherokee) and Irene Mankiller (of Dutch-Irish heritage); attended Skyline Junior College in San Bruno, CA, and San Francisco State College; Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, BA, 1977; graduate studies at University of Arkansas, 1979; m. Hector Hugo Olaya de Bardi, 1962 (div. 1974); m. Charlie Soap, c. 1987; children: (1st m.) Felicia (b. 1964), Gina (b. 1966).

Became involved with Native Americans who set about reclaiming Alcatraz Island (1969), asserting ownership based on an old treaty guaranteeing the reversion of unused government land to the tribe; spent 5 years establishing a defense fund for the Pit River tribe's battle to reclaim ancestral lands from Pacific Gas and Electric Co.; hired by Cherokee Nation, served as community development director (1977–83), then appointed principal organizer of a grant-funded revitalization project; became deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation (1983); took over as principal chief (1985); was reelected (1987); retired (1994). Received Donna Nigh First Lady Award from Oklahoma Commission for Status of Women (1985), American Leadership Award from Harvard University (1986), John W. Gardner Leadership Award (1988); inducted into Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame (1986), Oklahoma Hall of Fame, and Women's Hall of Fame (1994).

See also autobiography, Mankiller: A Chief and Her People (1984); and Women in World History.

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