TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Cherokee Nation, BancFirst, U.S. Mint and Wilma Mankiller Trust are partnering to host the “Wilma Mankiller Quarter Release and Celebration” event.

On June 6, a limited number of the 2022 Wilma Mankiller Quarters will be released to the public in Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation.

The event honoring the life and work of the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation starts at 10 a.m. at the Cherokee National Capital Museum lawn and allows the public to purchase Wilma Mankiller Quarters following the event inside the museum.

The ceremony will include many special guests including senior officials from the U.S. Mint and noted friends of Mankiller, including writer and feminist leader Gloria Steinem.

“In a just world, Wilma Mankiller would have been President, but now, she will be on a coin that is part of our daily lives. I hope more people will be inspired to read about Wilma, her leadership, and the democracy we inherited from Native Americans,” Steinem said.

Traditionally women have had an important leadership role in our Indian Nations, so we are deeply honored for Wilma to be recognized along with the other great women selected to be represented on the quarter,” said Charlie Soap, Wilma’s widower, executive of her trust and a former Director of Community Programs during her term as Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

The Wilma Mankiller Quarter is the third quarter released in the Mint’s American Women Quarters™ Program.

Cherokee officials say the quarter depicts a portrait of the late former Chief wrapped in a traditional shawl with the wind at her back, looking resolutely to the future. The seven-pointed star of the Cherokee Nation and “Cherokee Nation” in the Cherokee Syllabary are also included in the inscription.

Rendering of latest US quarter design honoring first female Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller
Courtesy: Cherokee Nation

“This coin’s design reflects the strength and determination it took for Wilma Mankiller to become the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation and to fight for Native American and women’s rights,” said United States Mint Deputy Director, Ventris C. Gibson. “We hope everyone who sees it will be inspired to learn more about her contributions to the Cherokee people and our Nation as a whole.”

Former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Ross Swimmer, who served during Wilma’s term as Deputy Chief, and current Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. will also attend in celebration of Chief Mankiller.

“Chief Mankiller was the voice that first elevated Native American tribes and tribal issues in this country and served as the first female Chief in a role dominated by men during a time that the Cherokee Nation was first getting its footing after decades of suppression by the U.S. Government,” Chief Hoskin said. “While we defend our sovereignty today, she was the pioneer who stood firmly for tribal sovereignty and treaty rights four decades earlier. She fought for civil rights and equality, and self-sufficiency for the Cherokee people, and was the anchor establishing what has now become the largest tribal health care system in the country. We are so proud she is forever honored on this coin by the U.S. Mint.”

Cherokee Nation officials say Mankiller was elected chief in 1987, and four years later, re-elected in a landslide. She tripled the tribe’s enrollment, doubled employment, and built new housing, health centers and children’s programs in the Cherokee Nation Reservation. Under her leadership, infant mortality declined and educational levels rose. Her leadership on social and financial issues made the Cherokee Nation a national role model. After leaving office in 1995, she remained a strong voice worldwide for social justice, native people, and women.

Wilma Mankiller, who was chief of the Cherokee from 1985 to 1995, poses next to statue and seal of Cherokee Nation
Wilma Mankiller, who was chief of the Cherokee from 1985 to 1995, put much of her focus on education, health and housing. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)

Mankiller received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. She was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

Each customer will be limited to purchase two rolls. Each roll is 40 quarters at a cost of $10.  

It will be a cash only sale, and will continue until the supply is exhausted or at day’s end.

According to the U.S. Mint, only two other Cherokee Nation citizens, Mary Golda Ross and Sequoyah have coins in their names.