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November 1, 2005

Nov. 9: Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller speaks on contemporary tribal life

Wilma Mankiller, former Cherokee Nation chief,
speaks on tribal life
Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to serve as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, the country’s second-largest tribe, will deliver a free public lecture on contemporary tribal life at the University of Oregon on Wednesday, November 9.

Her talk on “Context Is Everything: History and Culture in Contemporary Tribal Life” will begin at 7:00 P.M. in the ballroom of Erb Memorial Union (1222 E. 13th Avenue) in the center of the UO campus. A book signing will follow the lecture.

Mankiller served as chief from 1985 to 1995. She helped revitalize the Cherokee by improving health and education and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 for her achievements.

During her time in office, Mankiller oversaw a surge in tribal development, including several freestanding health clinics and an $11 million Job Corps center. 

She also met with presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton to discuss
critical tribal issues. She and Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah
co-chaired a national conference between tribal leaders and cabinet
members that led to the establishment of an Office of Indian Justice
within the U.S. Department of Justice.

Despite ongoing social and economic problems, Mankiller believes
indigenous communities have much to celebrate today.  “Strong tribal communities and governments are running enterprises, health clinics, and hospitals; certifying our foster homes; handling our own adoptions; negotiating our leases; and taking charge of our future,” she said. 

She holds honorary doctoral degrees from Yale University, Dartmouth College, Smith College, and Willamette University. 

Her books include Every Day Is a Good Day and Mankiller: A Chief and Her People. She has contributed articles and essays to a variety of publications, including Native Universe, the inaugural publication of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington.

Mankiller, the 2005-6 Wayne Morse Chair of Law and Politics, will be in residence at the university through November. As part of that residency, she and University of Oregon law professor Rennard Strickland are co-teaching an ethnic studies class on “Native American Life, Law and Leadership.”

INFO or call (541) 346-3700



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