Monthly Archives: January 2012

Chief Mankiller

What I admire in women who take on life’s challenges can be found in their unyielding spirit.  I love the story of Wilma Mankiller.  She was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in 1945 and grew up in San Francisco.  Her father was Cherokee and her mother Dutch/Irish.  At school she was not accepted by her peers and looking to the San Francisco Indian Center for refuge, she found her way.  She became an activist for the rights of Native Americans and took part in the Occupy Alcatraz movement in 1969.   Knowing that she wanted to bring aid to her own tribe,  she returned to her native Oklahoma in the ’70s.  In time, she was elected Chief of her tribe, the Cherokee Nation.  She credited her many leadership skills to her time spent in California involved in the causes of Native Americans.  She advanced her tribal community with education and health services, water and infrastructure improvements.  She lived by the Cherokee saying “be of good mind,” now considered positive thinking.

Her husband of 24 years, Charlie Soap, said he tried to impress her on their first date by taking her to Tulsa for a hotdog and a Rambo movie only to find out later she didn’t like hotdogs or Rambo movies.  They shared sharp wit and laughed alot.  He was the love of her life.  When Gloria Steinem married in 2000, her wedding was performed in Oklahoma at the home of Wilma Mankiller.  Wilma Mankiller and Gloria Steinem were collaborators and dear friends.  Mankiller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton in 1998.  When she died in 2010 of pancreatic cancer, President Obama wrote, “she served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country.”

Mankiller means to give watch, to protect.  Wilma Mankiller lived her name.   She brought light and hope to Native Americans, to women, to our world.  Chief Mankiller, you nailed it.


Most that I know about elegance, generosity, compassion and fun I learned from Maggie. Maggie grew up the daughter of a Southerner, a cowboy and rancher, who taught her to dream even when there wasn’t time to spare. He taught her to ride a horse and have courage. She took a chance to follow her heart. She went to college. She fell in love. She answered, “nothing at all, nothing at all,” when I wondered as a young child about the difference between the two drinking fountains labeled white and colored. She taught the history of Oklahoma focusing on its Native Americans and the Trail of Tears. She grew herbs and made yogurt. She liked to hula hoop and play on the beach. I liked that she’d forgo cleaning and laundry to hang out with her kids. Taking time to fashion a chic party dress out of an ugly bridesmaid gown for me, she’d throw together something stunning for her evening out and looking radiant, dash out the door with her nails still wet.

Maggie, my mother, died 5 years ago  Continue reading

Nails Still Wet

What nails still wet means…..

  • It is not about fighting tooth and nail.
  •  It is not about a hammer and nails.
  •  It is about nail polish.

but it’s really more than just nail polish…