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The Occupation of Alcatraz, 1969


Wilma Mankiller at her home on the Cherokee Reservation in Oklahoma, 1977. Photograph by Ilka Hartmann.

Following her activism with the Pit River Tribe, Mankiller became involved with social work before becoming involved with the Cherokee tribe. Working in economics, Mankiller helped the tribe obtain government funding through writing grants. Mankiller's involvement in the Cherokee community launched numerous successful community projects as well as a successful bid for the Deputy Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1983. Mankiller later went on to serve as the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1985-1995.

After retiring from politics, Mankiller returned to activism. She died of cancer in 2010.

Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010) was a Cherokee activist who was driven to political activism through becoming involved with the Occupation of Alcatraz. Focusing on the logistical side of the occupation, Mankiller was crucial in ensuring that much needed supplies made their way to the island.

After the occupation, Mankiller became involved with the Pit River Tribe's efforts to defend their ancestral lands from an encroaching Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Following the damming of the Pit River at the hands of PG&E, the Pit River Tribe reclaimed the land as theirs following the environmental toll that the dam had on the surrounding area.