A new quarter released on Monday, June 6th, celebrated a legendary figure who spent her life advocating for Indigenous people. Wilma Mankiller was the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and is the third woman to be honored as part of the US Mint’s ‘American Women Quarters Program.’
At an event commemorating the quarter’s release, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. spoke about the legacy of the tribe’s former leader. “Even years after her passing, Chief Mankiller is still making an impact,” he said. Mankiller was the first woman in the US to lead a powerful tribal nation. In 1985, Mankiller became the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation and held the position for a decade. During her tenure, tribal enrollment tripled, and educational and employment achievement also rose. She worked to improve the health of the community, overseeing the construction of health centers and children’s programs and a decline in infant mortality.
Mankiller was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom under Bill Clinton. She served as a role model and inspiration for all women across the nation until her passing in 2010. But her legacy continues to live on today.