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Iconic Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller becomes part of Mattel's 'Inspiring Women' series

Mattel is creating a Barbie doll in the likeness of Wilma Mankiller, an iconic chief of the Cherokee Nation, as part of its "Inspiring Women" series, the toy maker announced. Photo courtesy of Mattel
Mattel is creating a Barbie doll in the likeness of Wilma Mankiller, an iconic chief of the Cherokee Nation, as part of its "Inspiring Women" series, the toy maker announced. Photo courtesy of Mattel

Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Mattel is creating a Barbie doll in the likeness of Wilma Mankiller, an iconic chief of the Cherokee Nation, as part of its "Inspiring Women" series, the toy maker announced.

Mankiller was a leader in expanding rural health care and education in Native American communities and was considered a role model who inspired a generation of children.

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In addition to bolstering health care and classroom services in rural tribal communities, she also focused on improving living and social conditions by restoring pride in tribal and Native heritage. She was the Cherokee nation's first female principal chief and led the tribe for a decade until 1995.

She worked to build consensus among tribal members, many of whom had lost pride in their heritage through generations of being disenfranchised by federal policies that do not directly govern them because Native reservations are governed independently, but affected them nevertheless. Mankiller fought back tirelessly against these policies.

She was honored with the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award, and had an audience with three U.S. presidents.

Tribal and other officials and members of the Cherokee Nation will honor Mankiller's legacy in a public ceremony on Tuesday in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where the Cherokee Nation is headquartered.

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Mankiller was known for her quick retorts to comments about her surname, which was a military title, by responding with a straight face, saying "Mankiller is actually a well-earned nickname."

She died in 2010.

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