Deaths elsewhere

April 07, 2010

WILMA MANKILLER, 64

Former Cherokee Nation chief

Former Cherokee Nation Chief Wilma Mankiller has died after battling pancreatic cancer.

The Tahlequah, Okla.-based tribe says Ms. Mankiller died Tuesday morning.

Ms. Mankiller was one of the few women ever to lead a major American Indian tribe.

As the first female chief of the Cherokees, from 1985 to 1995, she led the tribe in tripling its enrollment, doubling employment and building health centers and children's programs.

Then-President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998.

"We feel overwhelmed and lost when we realize she has left us, but we should reflect on what legacy she leaves us," current Cherokee Chief Chad Smith said. "We are better people and a stronger tribal nation because of her example of Cherokee leadership, statesmanship, humility, grace, determination and decisiveness."

Ms. Mankiller dealt with numerous physical ailments during her lifetime, including three bouts with cancer.

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