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The Wright Perspective℠

Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

My prayer upon the passing of Cherokee Wilma Mankiller

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

As the smoke from my pipe lifts my prayers up to the heavens, I ask the Creator for great comfort to be bestowed upon us as our hearts mourn the loss of a great leader. I pray that the legacy of Wilma Mankiller will exist forever among our people. We must never forget to honor the sacrifices made by our warriors and leaders. As our tears begin to flow, we must acknowledge that they are not the first Cherokee tears shed, nor will they be the last. Let us nurture our children, and educate them in the old ways. Let us cherish the company and wisdom of our elders who are still among us, while keeping our gaze firmly focused on the future possibilities of our great people.

With much love,

-- Gary Wright II

From the Cherokee Nation:

Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, passes

Wilma Mankiller, former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, passed away this morning. Mankiller served 12 years in elective office at the Cherokee Nation, the first two as Deputy Principal Chief followed by 10 years as Principal Chief. She retired from public office in 1995. Among her many honors, Mankiller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton.

"Our personal and national hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness with the passing this morning of Wilma Mankiller," said Chad Smith, Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. "We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us. We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness. When we become disheartened, we will be inspired by remembering how Wilma proceeded undaunted through so many trials and tribulations. Years ago, she and her husband Charlie Soap showed the world what Cherokee people can do when given the chance, when they organized the self-help water line in the Bell community. She said Cherokees in that community learned that it was their choice, their lives, their community and their future. Her gift to us is the lesson that our lives and future are for us to decide. We can carry on that Cherokee legacy by teaching our children that lesson. Please keep Wilma's family, especially her husband Charlie and her daughters, Gina and Felicia, in your prayers."

Mankiller requested that any gifts in her honor be made as donations to One Fire Development Corporation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Native American communities though economic development, and to valuing the wisdom that exists within each of the diverse tribal communities around the world. Tax deductible donations can be made at as well as The mailing address for One Fire Development Corporation is 1220 Southmore Houston, TX 77004. Her memorial service will be Saturday at 11a.m. at the Cherokee Nation Cultural Grounds in Tahlequah.

Statement from President Barack Obama on the Passing of Wilma Mankiller

"I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma Mankiller today. As the Cherokee Nation's first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was recognized for her vision and commitment to a brighter future for all Americans. Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work. Michelle and I offer our condolences to Wilma's family, especially her husband Charlie and two daughters, Gina and Felicia, as well as the Cherokee Nation and all those who knew her and were touched by her good works."

Statement from Oklahoma Speaker of the House Chris Benge

"Wilma Mankiller broke down barriers as the first female Cherokee chief, and her legacy will continue for generations to come," said House Speaker Chris Benge, who is Cherokee. "She overcame many obstacles and never backed down to a challenge, which serves as a lesson to all of us as we seek to make our state a better place for all its people. My thoughts and prayers are with her friends and family during this difficult time."

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