The Wilma Mankiller doll celebrates the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. A victim of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, Mankiller returned home and rose to become the leader and force behind improving the lives of her Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma. She advocated for all women and children. Mattel’s released a Wilma Mankiller tribute doll as part of the Inspiring Women’s Series on November 7, 2023 to commemorate Native American Heritage Month. The Black Label doll was designed by Carlyle Nuera and retailed for $35.
Mankiller served as Principal Chief for 10 years and died in 2010 at 64 years old of cancer.
PRINCIPAL CHIEF OF THE CHEROKEE NATION OF OKLAHOMA
“The secret of our success is that we never, never give up.” – Wilma Mankiller
Barbie® recognizes all female role models. The 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.
Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller was the sixth of eleven children in her family. At the age of eleven, Wilma and her family relocated from their home on Cherokee Nation land to San Francisco as part of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956. It was there years later in 1969, she would become active in advocating for Native American and women’s rights. Wilma became a social worker, and from the beginning of her career, dedicated herself to empowering Native people and indigenous communities and restoring pride in their culture.
In 1977, Wilma returned to the Cherokee Nation and her ancestral home Mankiller Flats; there she founded the Cherokee Nation Community Development Department which focused on rehabilitating and restoring access to basic needs for the rural community. When she ask what the community needed most, the response was “Ama,” the Cherokee word for water. A feature film was made about the power of the Cherokee value of Gadugi (the coming together of the Cherokee people to meet a need) and how Wilma worked with the community to construct a roughly 20-mile waterline to get water to Bell. In 1983, Wilma became the first woman to ever serve as Deputy Chief, and two years later, the first woman to serve as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. She served in the leadership role for ten years.
Throughout her illustrious life, WIlma Mankiller advocated for social justice, Native people, women, and children. She attained national and global recognition for her achievements and was awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988, the highest civilian honor. Wilma dedicated her life to advocacy and worked hard to make the world a brighter for future generations.
Girls need more role models like Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, because imagining they can be anything is just the beginning. Actually seeing that they can makes all the difference.
When the doll was released a typographical error set off an internet firestorm when one unicode letter on the seal printed in the background of the decorative insert changed the word Cherokee Nation to more resemble chicken nation. It appears to be an error from a decades old Wikipedia image file that was replicated and printed by Matter.
There are two Cherokee unicode letters that look like a W and the wrong one was used and changes “Cherokee” to a look more like “chicken”. There is currently a warning posted on Wikipedia about the possible error but it is not clear it was there when the file was propagated for the doll box.
Mattel has apologized for the error and it is unknown whether new releases of the doll will correct the error or they discontinue the doll after the initial sell out. The Wilma Mankiller estate did approve the design of the doll, not seeing the error, and the Cherokee Nation organization was not consulted.
The Wilma Cherokee doll comes wearing a light turquoise floor length traditional styled dress with a black, red, yellow, and light blue stripe decoration. Mattel says the colors represent the four directions of the compass. The dress is is gathered at the chest and belted at the waist and has long puffy sleeves. The back has a Velcro opening and is easily removed.
The shoes are a black flat strapped shoe.
The face is painted with two toned brown eyes, natural pink lips, and brown and black eyebrows. The sculpt is the Mattel Daisy old. The shoulder length rooted brunette hair has both gold highlights and dark brown low lights and parts on the side. The hands have pink painted nails.
The body is a Mattel curvy articulated collector body with articulation at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrist, hips, knees, and ankles.
Accessories include a plastic weaved tan basket, a turquoise doll stand, and a Certificate of Authenticity.
To get the current prices of the Wilma Mankiller Barbie doll use these links. The doll is currently sold out everywhere at retail but as usually the case with Inspiring Women Series doll, more may become available. Currently resellers are the only option. The museum gets a small commission for qualified purchase using the following links.
There is a Mankiller documentary available on Youtube.
Also the Cherokee Nation put out a Youtube video of the Celebration of the release of the Wilma Mankiller Barbie.