‘Mankiller’ documentary shown at Bartlesville Public Library
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. on Jan. 27 speaks before a crowd in Bartlesville to introduce “Mankiller,” a documentary on the life of the late Cherokee activist and former principal chief, Wilma Mankiller. COURTESY
A crowd gathers at the Bartlesville Public Library on Jan. 27 to watch “Mankiller,” a documentary on the Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief, Wilma Mankiller. The event was part of a library program to introduce more Cherokee culture and history to the community. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BARTLESVILLE – In an attempt to vitalize the community with more Cherokee culture and history, on Jan. 27 the Bartlesville Public Library showed “Mankiller,” a documentary on the life of the first female Cherokee Nation principal chief, Wilma Mankiller.
“Mankiller” director/producer Valerie Red-Horse Mohl and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd showcased Mankiller’s contributions as an activist, feminist and chief.
Current Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. introduced the film to more than 70 attendees and talked about the importance of Mankiller’s role in Cherokee history.
“There’s this idea of what a chief ought to be to which we all want to achieve, and that standard and that person is Wilma Mankiller for a variety of reasons,” Hoskin said. “The good work she did as chief, the groundbreaking work that she did, the life she led before she was chief. It was a life of advocacy and activism.”
The film tells the story of Mankiller growing up, her family’s relocation to California, how she became active in her community advocating for Native American rights and issues and becoming the CN’s first female chief. The film first aired on PBS in 2018.
Several people close to Mankiller or who worked with her were interviewed in the documentary, including former Principal Chiefs Ross Swimmer and Chad Smith, friend and feminist Gloria Steinem, daughter Felicia Olaya and Mankiller’s husband Charlie Soap.
“She was very much an activist before she ever ran for public office,” Hoskin said. “She ran for deputy chief and then rose up to chief after then-Chief Ross Swimmer became appointed to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and has become in the best way possible just an iconic figure in this country, in the United States, and she’s Cherokee. She did such great things for her people.”
He called her a leader among leaders, leading the CN and a movement across the country among other tribes to become leaders of their own destinies.
“You’ve got to believe that Wilma Mankiller was just a great leader that had a tremendous impact not only on the Cherokee Nation but a tremendous impact on this country,” Hoskin said. “There’s a whole generation of young Cherokees who’ve never met Wilma Mankiller, and they have somebody in Cherokee history that young Cherokees can draw inspiration from. Whether it’s little girls or little boys, but imagine little girls who think ‘I can be chief of the Cherokee Nation.’”
Bartlesville Public Library Director Shellie McGill said she just wanted to introduce the film to the Bartlesville community.
“I just want them to start on a new appreciation of their Cherokee heritage because there’s not a lot in this area that has been focused on that, in my opinion,” McGill said.
She also serves as director of the town’s history museum and said that there would be a Trail of Tears exhibit on display in March.
“We’re real excited to explore our Cherokee heritage,” McGill said.