Cherokee Nation activist Wilma Mankiller gets her own Barbie doll

Wilma Mankiller is Cherokee Nation’s first female principal chief

Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll

Mattel is honoring Native American activist Wilma Mankiller with a new Barbie doll in her likeness. A tireless champion for social justice and the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Mankiller dedicated her life to advocacy and worked hard to make the world brighter for future generations. The Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll is the latest addition to the brand’s Inspiring Women Series and is now available for purchase.

Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll unveiled

Wilma Mankiller Barbie Doll close-up shot
Wilma Mankiller Barbie Doll close-up shot

To sculpt a doll that properly reflects Wilma Mankiller’s likeness and essence, Mattel, the parent company of Barbie, worked closely with the activist’s estate and the Cherokee Nation. The final look of the doll takes inspiration from an iconic photograph of Mankiller, taken by her husband, Charlie Soap, in 2005, which can be seen on the doll’s packaging.

The Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll wears a richly pigmented turquoise dress with ribbon striping that represents the four directions: north, south, east, and west. Standing 13 inches tall, the doll includes a doll stand and a Certificate of Authenticity.

Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll pakaging
Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll pakaging

On top of the doll’s release, Barbie is also donating $25,000 to The American Indian Resources Center, a non-profit organization that provides educational, cultural, and social services to Native Americans and Alaska Natives living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Wilma Mankiller barbie doll full shot
Wilma Mankiller barbie doll full shot

Where to buy the Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll

The Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll is available on Amazon for $35.

Who is Wilma Mankiller?

As mentioned above, Wilma Pearl Mankiller was a Cherokee activist, social worker, community developer and the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Born on November 18, 1945 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Mankiller was the sixth of 11 children born to Charley Mankiller and Clara Irene Sitton. She lived on her family’s allotment in Adair County, Oklahoma, until the age of 11, when her family relocated to San Francisco through a federal relocation program aimed at moving Native Americans from federally subsidized lands into larger cities with more job opportunities.

According to USA Today, Wilma first stepped into social activism when she became involved in the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz, a 19-month-long protest when 89 Native Americans and their supporters occupied Alcatraz Island.

Fast forward to 1977, Mankiller returned to Oklahoma and began working for the Cherokee Nation. She quickly rose through the ranks, becoming Deputy Principal Chief in 1983. When Principal Chief Ross Swimmer resigned in 1985 to become head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Mankiller automatically became Principal Chief.

Although a controversial figure, Mankiller was a highly effective leader. She was known for her strong will, her sharp wit, and her unwavering commitment to the Cherokee people. Under her leadership, the Cherokee Nation made significant progress in areas such as education, healthcare, safe water access, housing services, and economic development.

Mankiller served as Principal Chief for ten years, until 1995. She was the first woman elected to serve as Principal Chief of a major Native American tribe, and she was a role model for Native women and women around the world.

Mankiller died from pancreatic cancer in 2010 at the age of 64. She was then honored with many local, state, and national awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“Wilma Mankiller has shown countless young women to be fearless and speak up for Indigenous and human rights. She not only served in a role dominated by men during a time when tribal nations were suppressed, but she led,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr (via USA Today). “She truly exemplifies leadership, culture and equality, and we applaud Mattel for commemorating her in the Barbie Inspiring Women Series.”

Barbie’s Inspiring Women Series

Barbie’s Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.

In addition to the Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll, Mattel launched Barbie dolls in the likeness of Celia Cruz, Anna May Wong, and Bessie Coleman earlier this year.

In 2022, Barbie’s Inspiring Women Series honored Ida B. Wells, Dr. Jane Goodall and Madam C.J. Walker, and in previous years, Dr. Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Billie Jean King, Ella Fitzgerald, Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, and Sally Ride.

Sources: Amazon, USA Today
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