Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, will deliver the keynote address March 6 for Women’s History Month.
Mankiller will present her speech, “Women’s Leadership in the 21st Century,” at 7:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Student Learning Center. A reception in the north tower of the SLC will follow the address. Both events are open to the public.
In 1983, Mankiller was elected deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation, and when the principal chief resigned to take the position as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Mankiller became the first woman to serve as principal chief of the Cherokee. She was elected in her own right in 1987 and re-elected in 1991 with 82 percent of the vote. She left office in 1995.
Chief Mankiller has worked in civil rights and for women’s issues for more than 30 years. As principal chief, Mankiller led a nation of some 100,000 people and managed a budget of $100 million and worked to improve the social, political and financial lives of Cherokees.
Among her many honors, Chief Mankiller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and has 18 honorary doctorates from universities such as Yale and from Smith College.
Mankiller has chronicled her life in Mankiller: A Chief and Her People and is co-editor of A Reader’s Companion to the History of Women in the U.S. Her latest book is Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections of Contemporary Indigenous Women.