It was not until 1924 that Native Americans born in the United States were considered American citizens. Indigenous peoples were granted the right to vote in 1957, but some states still found ways to deprive Native Americans of their voting rights.
Mankiller’s coin puts the name of the Cherokee nation next to the motto intended to be unifying. It is long overdue.
Mankiller’s legacy is not just due to the fact that she was the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation. This is the good she did before, during and after her service as a senior chef.
She entered public life as an activist for Native Americans and women. Working for her country, she has focused on securing clean water systems and rehabilitating homes for communities with large indigenous populations in Northeast Oklahoma.
As chief, Mankiller tripled the tribe’s citizenship registration, doubled the number of jobs, and added housing, health care centers and youth programs. Education has increased and infant mortality has declined. The financial and commercial side of the tribe modernized to become a national model.
Since then, the Cherokee Nation, along with other tribal nations, has been a significant economic driver in the state, particularly in rural Oklahoma.
Mankiller left office in 1995, but continued to advocate for indigenous peoples, women and social justice. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.