22 April 2010

Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010), first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation

In my previous blog article today, I mentioned Will Rogers (1879-1935), who had Cherokee ancestry. I had planned to write about him earlier this week, but didn't find the time before today.

Today I received the 26th April 2010 issue of Time, which in the Milestones column reported the death of Wilma Mankiller, the first principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. She died in her home in Adair County, Oklahoma on 6 April 2010.

Mankiller served as principal chief from 1985 to 1995, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993.

Wilma Pearl Mankiller was born at Tahlequay, Oklahoma on 18 November 1945 as the sixth of eleven children of Charley Mankiller (1914-1971) and Clara Irene Sitton (b. 1921). Mankiller had 2 girls, Felicia Olaya and Gina Olaya, by her first husband, Hector Hugo Olaya de Bardi from Ecuador. Her second husband, Charlie Soap, survives her.

See also


  1. All Americans say they are "half Norwegian" (or half Italian, German,..) goes the joke, and many claim Native American connections (esp. Cherokee it seems). So when my husband would tell of his Cherokee grandmother in Oklahoma and of her German husband, his grandfather. teaching her to make sauerkraut (but there were no family records whatsoever other than the sauerkraut crock) it was difficult give the matter much thought. His Grandmother had been extremely short, and she did live in the right area for the terminus of the Trail of Tears, but she had died years before and I could only see her in grainy photos. Recently when we wondered even more strongly due to our children, however, and we saw how far accurate DNA testing had come, we checked out the DNA evidence. From the degree of Native American heritage shown, Grandma had to be close to if not 100% Native American. So you have a blog fan with Norwegian and Cherokee connections (typical American :-).

  2. After the fact fact checking - and all my facts but a (tall) one check out with hubbie. Evidently my 'short' memory was off; his mother was short, but not Gma Starkey.

  3. Julia, thanks for your comments! So your children have both Norwegian and Cherokee ancestry. That's an interesting combination! Most of my ancestors are Norwegian, but one of my g-g-g-g-grandmothers was born Cappelen and was thus of German and Danish descent. I haven't added that line to my ancestry table yet, though.


  4. Oh dear. Good thing I am not attempting serious history! In my correction note, I misquoted Grandma's maiden name. It was Stilley (not Starkey). Barsha Stilley Gosvener

  5. Did you discover the mistake yourself, or did your husband tell you? :-) How much do people in general know about the ancestry of their spouse anyway...