TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —On June 6, a limited number of the 2022 Wilma Mankiller Quarters will be released to the public in Tahlequah, the capitol of the Cherokee Nation.
The Cherokee Nation, BancFirst, U.S. Mint and Wilma Mankiller Trust are partnering to host the “Wilma Mankiller Quarter Release and Celebration” event.
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.
“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.
The quarter features a portrait of the late former Chief in a resolute gaze to the future. The wind is at her back, and she is wrapped in a traditional shawl. To her left is the seven-pointed star of the Cherokee Nation and includes “Cherokee Nation” in the Cherokee Syllabary.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
Mankiller received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, the highest honor given to civilians in the United States. She was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
BancFirst was selected by the U.S. Mint to be the issuing institution for the public release of the Wilma Mankiller Quarter.
BancFirst will receive $50,000 worth of quarters. Each customer will be limited to purchase two rolls. Each roll is 40 quarters at a cost of $10.
Each roll has been prepared under the authority of the U.S. Mint and will be a cash only sale, and will continue until the supply is exhausted or at day's end.
"It is a distinct honor for BancFirst to officiate the release event of the Chief Mankiller Quarter," said Tahlequah BancFirst President Rob Headley. "It’s exciting to offer these quarter rolls to the Tahlequah area community on June 6 for this special event in honor of Wilma Mankiller.”
According to the U.S. Mint, only two other Cherokee Nation citizens, Mary Golda Ross and Sequoyah have coins in their names.