A group of African American women (members of the "Smart Set Club") pose on a staircase
About the image

Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Because of Her Story

Wilma Mankiller
I led my nation.
Read more

Wilma Mankiller

Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation

IN BELL, OKLAHOMA, 25 percent of people didn’t have indoor plumbing and lived in dilapidated conditions. We proposed they build a waterline and rehab their houses, as volunteers. We’d supply the technical engineering. 

Most were on welfare; people said they’d never show up. They showed up. 

We proved that Cherokee values were alive. I was trying to encourage our people to trust their thinking again, to look to themselves for solutions. 

I want to be remembered as the person who helped indigenous people restore faith in themselves. 

Wilma Mankiller’s memoir is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of inspiring her people and leading a nation. 

Credits

Photo: Courtesy of Wilma Mankiller Foundation

Content: Dick Pryor interview with Wilma Mankiller, OETA, 2008

Credits Return to Image
Read More Stories
Explore More

The American Women's History Initiative will amplify women's voices to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future.

Bella Abzug (in hat), Betty Freidan (right, in trench coat) and Billie Jean King (far right) accompany torch relay runners into Houston, 1977. Unknown photographer; National Archives
About the image

Bella Abzug (in hat), Betty Freidan (right, in trench coat) and Billie Jean King (far right) accompany torch relay runners into Houston, 1977. Unknown photographer; National Archives.