Wilma Mankiller Essay

2543 Words Aug 26th, 2010 11 Pages
Wilma Mankiller was born November 18, 1945 in Oklahoma but later relocated due to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Indian Relocation Program of the 1950’s. Because the relocation program failed to keep promises it made to Native Americans, Wilma became an activist fighting for the rights of Native Americans (Wallis). Wilma Mankiller was the first female elected Deputy Chief and later became the first female in modern history to lead a major Native American tribe by becoming the first Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma in 1987. With an enrolled population of over 140,000 members and an annual budget of more than $75 million, her accomplishment is equal to that of a chief executive office of a major corporation (Yannuzzie). …show more content…
In the 20th century, few Indian leaders have achieved national notoriety for their leadership efforts, but among these, Wilma Mankiller has achieved national and international acclaim for her labors (Mankiller and Steinem). In 1983 she won election as deputy principal Cherokee chief, and when the principal chief became head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1985, Wilma Mankiller succeeded him as principal chief (Yannuzzie). In 1987, Wilma ran again and won by a landslide of 83% of the votes. She did it fighting against the usual barriers set against Native Americans, but also by overcoming the chauvinistic tribal hurdles of fellow Cherokees, who had never before been led by a woman (Harris). Wilma Mankiller is a humble, soft-spoken woman who has worked to bolster her tribe from the inside out. She has created a better atmosphere for her people; make the lives of Indians of America a little easier; and has called upon the American Government to be held at a greater accountability for their unfulfilled promises to the American Indian (Kauger and Du Bey). She didn’t use the media to bring attention to the dire straits of her people; instead, she employed a go-for-it attitude that has created tangible benefits for her people as they enjoy higher literacy, better healthcare, and lower poverty levels. She emphasized the necessity of retaining certain Cherokee traditions

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