Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thanks, Wilma Mankiller

Thinking about Wilma Mankiller, who just passed away yesterday after a long illness.  She was a strong leader for her tribe and an inspiration to men and women worldwide.   She started programs for self-sufficiency, healthcare and education.  She was the first woman elected leader of the 72,000 member Cherokee Nation, head of the tribal council and guardian of the tribe.   She held the position for ten years, leaving only after her health concerns grew.  

Here she relates a bit about what becoming the elected leader for the Cherokee people was like for her;

"The only issue in the first election was my being female," she said. "That was a total — a total issue in the entire election. There was incredible opposition because of that. But the people who stayed with me in the '83 election and who stayed with me through today, 10 years later, have been the older people in the tribe and the more traditional elements of the tribe. I've always found that fascinating. My husband and I have talked about it and I think we've come to the conclusion that maybe older people have a greater sense of history and understand that there was a time when women played a more significant role in the tribe and there was more balance and harmony between men and women in the Cherokee Nation." (NPR)

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