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Wilma Pearl Mankiller was born in 1945 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and became the first female chief of a Native American tribe in modern history. She served as Deputy and Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and throughout her career spoke out for the rights of Native Americans. An ardent activist and feminist, Mankiller was inducted into the Oklahoma Women's Hall of Fame (1986), the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame (1992), the National Women's Hall of Fame (1993), and has received the Distinguished Leadership Award of the Harvard Foundation. In addition, she was chosen as one of the Fifty Great Americans by Who's Who. She is the author of Mankiller: A Chief and Her People, and co-editor of The Reader's Companion to the History of Women in the United States.
This collection consists of official and personal correspondence, subject files, and business records. Record series include personal correspondence (1993-1995), correspondence (1985-1995) with members of the U.S. Congress and the National Congress of American Indians, Tribal Council correspondence (1990-1994), Cherokee National Historical Society correspondence (1990-1995), and general correspondence (1982-1995). Governmental affairs files pertain to the Native American Rights Fund (1989-1993), the BIA Central Office (1988-1995), the BIA Muscogee Area Office (1989-1995), the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (1977-1995), the National Congress of American Indians (1993-1995), the Tribal Election Commission (1985-1994), Tribal Council Meetings (1985-1993), as well as financial records such as audits, budgets, and accounting. Business files include materials concerning the Cherokee Gardens (1981-1991), the Bingo Outpost (1989-1995), Cherokee Nation Industries (1977-1995), etc.. Education and training records concern the Job Training Partnership Act (1993-1995), Head Start (1985-1995), Oaks Mission School (1977-1995), Sequoyah High School (1984-1995), and Talking Leaves Job Corps (1986-1995). Files on community development deal with the Community Development Block Grant (1985-1995), the Community Loan Fund (1987-1994), the Bell Project (1981-1987), etc... Materials on housing include files on the Housing Authority (1993-1994) and the Home Improvement Program (1985-1994). Health files relate to the Jack Brown Center (1986-1994), Indian Health Services (1991-1995), the National Indian Health Board (1985-1992), etc.. Environmental issues and programs are covered in files pertaining to the Arkansas Riverbed Authority (1993-1994). Other files relate to Mankiller's writings, and genealogical material concerning her family.