Oklahoma City Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller, one of the nation’s most visible American Indian leaders and one of the few women to lead a major tribe, died Tuesday after suffering from cancer and other health problems. She was 64.
Mankiller, whose first taste of federal policy toward Indians came when her family ended up in a housing project after a government relocation project, took Indian issues to the White House and met with three presidents. She earned a reputation for facing conflict head-on.
As the first female chief of the Cherokees, from 1985 to 1995, Mankiller led the tribe in tripling its enrollment, doubling employment and building new health centers and children’s programs.
A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah.