Wilma Mankiller (b. 1945) made history when she became the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985. She strove to improve health care, the education system and the government of her people. She served for a decade before deciding not to seek re-election because of poor health. Mankiller still advocates for Native American rights and women’s rights.
Wilma Mankiller Quotes
- The secret of our success is that we never, never give up.
- A lot of young girls have looked to their career paths and have said they’d like to be chief. There’s been a change in the limits people see.
- Everybody is sitting around saying, ‘Well, jeez, we need somebody to solve this problem of bias.’ That somebody is us. We all have to try to figure out a better way to get along.
- I don’t think anybody anywhere can talk about the future of their people or of an organization without talking about education. Whoever controls the education of our children controls our future.
- I’ve run into more discrimination as a woman than as an Indian.
- Prior to my election, young Cherokee girls would never have thought that they might grow up and become chief.
- One of the things my parents taught me, and I’ll always be grateful as a gift, is to not ever let anybody else define me; that for me to define myself . . . and I think that helped me a lot in assuming a leadership position.
Wilma Mankiller must have had some wonderful parents. I try to teach my children the same thing that she mentioned in that last quote.