Wilma Mankiller Reflects on Columbus Day

Columbus Day is traditionally marked by going to parades that honor the man credited with "discovering" America. But for Native Americans, whose ancestors were displaced and marginalized by the European journey to this continent, it's a day of somber reflection or even mourning.

Wilma Mankiller, the first woman to become chief of the Cherokee Nation and a long-time activist and advocate for Native American rights, discusses the issue. She also explains what Native Americans are expecting from the next president of the United States.

Mankiller became chief in 1985, replacing Ross Swimmer after he resigned to take the top post at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She was freely elected in 1987, and re-elected again in 1991 in a landslide victory, collecting 82 percent of the vote. In 1995, she resigned. Over the course of her three terms, Mankiller would reinvigorate the Cherokee Nation through community building projects that practiced gadugi, where men and women work collectively for the common good.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.