Mankiller, Wilma

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  • Wilma Pearl Mankiller (1945–2010) was the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, serving from 1985 to 1995. She became chief in 1985 when she was elevated from deputy chief after the departure of the elected chief, Ross Swimmer, who went to Washington, D.C., to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Despite some critical comments during her run for deputy chief focused not on policies but on what a female should and shouldn't do, she ran for the position of principal chief. In her completion of the term, she focused on education and health care, the construction of new schools, job-training centers, and health clinics. These areas continued as key throughout her life both in and out of office. She won election in ...

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