Cherokee Nation on Friday celebrated the groundbreaking of a new $10 million, nearly 15-acre park in Tahlequah named in honor of the late Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller.


TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Cherokee Nation on Friday celebrated the groundbreaking of a new $10 million, nearly 15-acre park in Tahlequah named in honor of the late Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller.

The Wilma P. Mankiller Cherokee Capitol Park is being constructed on property that was previously home to a septic manufacturing company, which has since gone out of business. The tribe acquired the property after a proposal by Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner to create the park – an idea first recommended by Cherokee Nation First Daughter Jasmine Hoskin, who felt the land could be turned into a family-friendly space.

“Breaking ground on the Wilma P. Mankiller Capitol Park is a very special occasion for the Cherokee Nation. This project will not only transform unused land into a vibrant community space, but it also pays tribute to a remarkable leader who shaped our tribe’s history as the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation,” Chief Hoskin said. “Chief Mankiller’s legacy of empowerment, social justice, and community development will live on through this park, inspiring future generations of Cherokees. This investment reflects our commitment to honoring our past while building a brighter future for our citizens.”

Completion is tentatively scheduled for the fall of 2025.

Rendering of the Cherokee Nation’s future Wilma P. Mankiller Cherokee Capitol Park in Tahlequah.

“This park represents more than just a recreational space; it’s a testament to our Nation’s progress and resilience. As we break ground, we’re laying the foundation for a place where families can gather, where our traditions can be celebrated, and where Chief Mankiller’s spirit of community can thrive,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “This park, with its diverse features from playgrounds to hiking trails, embodies the holistic approach to community well-being that Chief Mankiller championed throughout her life. It’s a fitting tribute to her enduring legacy.”

The park will include playground space, an area for traditional Cherokee games, a basketball court, a community building, a small amphitheater, green space, paved and hiking trails, an area for food trucks, public art, an heirloom garden, a picnic pavilion, a dog park, and additional features when complete.

The Principal Chief Wilma P. Mankiller Capitol Park Act was approved by the Council of the Cherokee Nation in 2022 after being proposed by Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner, and later amended in 2023. The Act calls for the park to feature a statue that honors the late Chief Mankiller.

“I’m excited to know construction of this park will soon begin and that the park will honor the late Chief Wilma Mankiller, who is such an inspiration to me and so many others,” said First Daughter Jasmine Hoskin.

Construction of the new park is one of more than 60 Cherokee Nation projects across the reservation worth a combined total of nearly $1.2 billion, representing the largest single capital investment in Cherokee Nation history.

Representatives of the Mankiller family, including Felicia Olaya and Charlie Soap, reviewed and approved the concept ideas for the park and will be involved in review of the Chief Mankiller statue design.

“I think it is the most wonderful thing to name this park after my mother, because she was a person of nature,” said Felicia Olaya, daughter of the late Chief Mankiller. “One of my fondest memories of my mother was going to parks and being in nature. I think this park will be a great impact on the community. Not only is it a place to gather with family, friends, children and grandchildren, but it’s also going to teach the community about Cherokee culture.”

Mankiller served as the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Under her leadership, family home ownership grew, safe access to water was more prevalent, economic development opportunities expanded, and educational achievement rose across the Cherokee Nation Reservation.