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Wilma Mankiller

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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). Her areas of expertise include community development, public relations, tribal governance, leadership and writing. During her time in office, Wilma faced many challenges and turned them into accomplishments. She bettered the lives of her people by building health clinics, bringing water and electricity to poor communities, and supporting small businesses. These things meant a great deal too many people, but Wilma also tackled big issues like the male-domination of the Cherokee Nation, which went against traditional Cherokee values (Mankiller and Steinem). She also spoke out against Native American stereotypes and worked to make the mainstream image of Native Americans one of regular people with the same wants and needs as everyone else. And in doing this she worked to build the confidence of her people that they deserved equality and as well in their own culture; she helped the people of the Cherokee Nation to believe in them-selves again. In leading Indian people, there have been many leadership styles over the centuries that have been successfully employed to aid a cause. Some Indian leaders developed a reputation for…...

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