Activist and Cherokee leader Wilma Mankiller died of pancreatic cancer on 6 April 2010 at the age of 64 and after a long life of political action on behalf of indigenous people and women. Though Mankiller, as Principal Chief, actively opposed the inclusion of Cherokee freedmen in the Nation (the descendants of Cherokee slaves of African descent) (1), she was responsible for an important legacy of Indian advocacy from health care to Indian women's rights.
1. David Cornsilk (editor, Cherokee Observer), Afrigeneas (22 October 2007): "In 1987 Wilma Mankiller, as Principal Chief, presented a resolution before the Cherokee Nation tribal council endorsing the rules of the enrollment office requiring "Indian blood" as proven by a CDIB card. In so doing she took the Freedmen's expulsion by her predecessor Ross O. Swimmer one step further"; "Cherokee Freedmen Caught in High-level Dispute," Indianz.com (20 August 2003): "The Bureau of Indian Affairs was prepared to reject the results of the Cherokee Nation's recent election in which African descendants weren't allowed to vote until a high-level delegation of tribal dignitaries, including former chief Wilma Mankiller, requested to meet with Bush administration officials to protest, documents filed in federal court show."