WASHINGTON – An image of former Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller with “a resolute gaze to the future” has been recommended for the reverse side of a 2022 quarter as part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters series.
The quarter’s preferred design – one of three up for consideration – has been endorsed by both the Congress-established Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, according to Coin World, which has covered the numismatic field since 1960.
“The reverse design recommended for the Mankiller coin depicts Mankiller with a resolute gaze to the future,” an article on coinworld.com noted. “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.”
Additional inscriptions read “Principal Chief” and, in the Cherokee Language, “Cherokee Nation.” Mankiller served as principal chief from 1985-95.
“Chief Mankiller was quite a force,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “When she became chief in the 1980s, Cherokee Nation was still trying to regain its footing from nearly a century of oppression and suppression of our government by the United States. Chief Mankiller was very bold in what she expected the United States to do, which was to provide resources that they were obliged to provide and to get out of the way of the Cherokee Nation so we could chart our own destiny. Chief Mankiller was someone who survived in an office that had been previously dominated by men. I think she sparked a generation, particularly a generation of Cherokee girls, in showing them what was possible.”
In 1985, then-Deputy Principal Chief Mankiller took over for Principal Chief Ross Swimmer, who resigned to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. Mankiller was elected to the seat in 1987 and again in 1991. She resigned from public office in 1995.
“She led for 10 years, guiding a sovereign nation whose population more than doubled, from 68,000 to 170,000, during her tenure,” a biography from the National Women’s History Museum states. “The first woman to be elected chief of a major American Indian tribe, she revitalized the Nation’s tribal government, and advocated relentlessly for improved education, healthcare and housing services. Under her leadership, infant mortality declined and educational achievement rose in the Cherokee Nation.”
Mankiller died from pancreatic cancer on April 6, 2010, at her Adair County home at age 64. Following her passing, President Barack Obama said, “As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the nation-to-nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the federal government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she was recognized for her vision and commitment to a brighter future for all Americans.”
The recommended coin design will make its way to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has the final decision, according to the U.S. Mint. Designs not chosen featured depictions of Mankiller with her arms crossed above the seven-pointed star, and taking the oath of office.
The five-coin American Women Quarters series includes Mankiller along with Adelina Otero-Warren, Anna May Wong, Sally Ride and Maya Angelou. The 2022 quarter dollars are the first five of a potential 20 overall to be issued five per year from 2022 through 2025.
“Courageous women have made countless contributions throughout our great nation’s history,” Mint Director David J. Ryder said. “The American Women Quarters Program is a unique opportunity to honor a broad and diverse group of women whose achievements, triumphs and legacies reflect the strength and resilience of our nation. We look forward to sharing their stories.”