The Cherokee Nation elected its first female chief, Wilma Mankiller, 30 years ago.
Born in Tahlequah in 1945, Mankiller was elected deputy chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1983. The single mother was the first female elected to this role. Two years later, Mankiller succeeded Principal Chief Ross Swimmer. In 1987 she was elected, in her own right, as the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served for a decade despite facing multiple challenges.
Mankiller, who died in April 2010 of pancreatic cancer, spent her life opening doors for women in public office and the Cherokee Nation.