Wilma Mankiller, 1945-2010

She saved the Cherokee

The Cherokee tribe has lost its most important leader of the last century. Wilma Mankiller died of pancreatic cancer April 6th. When Mankiller took over the tribe the Cherokee were in turmoil. Their facilities and tribal support system was shot, the BIA was screwing them, and they had no way to make things better for their people. Until this firebrand grabbed the feds by the balls and dreamed to make things work for  her tribe. She didn’t want a handout, she wanted the ability to survive as a nation. And, she did it. Now, the Cherokee are prosperous and proud. It never would have happened without Wilma Mankiller.

I met Wilma many times when I was a lowly busboy working at restaurants in Tulsa. She was like a gracious queen. You couldn’t be in her presence without realizing her enormous integrity and grace. She looked busboys in the eye, and thanked us for water, sincerely. But, mostly, we really loved her good friend Peter Manhart! He was a nut. I assume Peter is dead, but that man was a Tulsa legend. He’d drive in from near Tahlequah in his 6.9 litre Mercedes and have a rockin’ good time. Sometimes my buddy Davis Tompkins would have to drive him home in his car and spend the night to get a ride back. It wasn’t just that the guy was a fun drunk, what mattered about Peter is that he treated you like a human even though he was a rich guy and we were a ragtag bunch of black guys and middle easterners. Still, it was a damned good thing for the Cherokee that it was Wilma and not Peter who became Chief.


One Response to “Wilma Mankiller, 1945-2010”

  1. sherkat Says:

    Reblogged this on Iranianredneck's Weblog and commented:

    I just learned that Wilma Mankiller is on the short list for the $20 to replace that horrible racist shitbag Andrew Jackson. There is some tough competition. Harriet Tubman is a tough act to follow. But, I sure hope they don’t give it to some milquetoast white woman…..

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