First Woman to Lead Cherokee Nation Dies

First Woman to Lead Cherokee Nation Dies

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Wilma Mankiller, the only woman to hold the title of principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, passed away on Tuesday morning at the age of 64, following a battle with stage four pancreatic cancer, according to a report in Indian Country Today. Mankiller spent 12 years in leadership positions within her tribal government, including principal chief from 1985 to 1995. Mankiller’s work as an advocate for native people and women propelled her to the national stage, and in 1998 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton, one of many honors she received throughout her career. After retiring from her position as chief, Mankiller remained active by serving on the board of Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations, and as an advisor to educational institutions such as the University of Arizona.