Coffee with President Mankiller

Would we drink coffee with Wilma Mankiller?

Kristy: Yes. For starters because she has a badass surname. But really, there are a lot of reasons. I first heard of her a month or so again when I was compiling a list of “deviant” women for a course syllabus. A friend who happens to be a Native Americanist recommended President Mankiller, stating that she was an amazingly strong and dedicated woman. From what little I’ve read of her, that seems to have been true. I’d like to ask her about her family losing their lands to eminent domain and their subsequent relocation to San Francisco. Does she have any thoughts on why her parents chose to move cross country? How did she feel about it at the time? How did that influence her as a future leader of the Cherokee Nation? I’d like to talk with her generally about the role of women in American society–what does she think it is that’s still holding us back? I’d like to see what she thinks needs to be done to improve the situation of Native Americans in general. And selfishly, I’d like to talk to her about my dissertation. The women I’m studying are Native American, but they are mostly icons among Euro-Americans. What impact does she see these icons as having on the lives of contemporary Indian women?

Cammy:  Yes. I have to agree with Kristy that part of this–shallow though it is–comes from the kick-ass last name she’s got going on.  Some of the other reasons are that she’s in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame (you share space with Patsy Cline and Sandra Day O’Connor, you are, at a minimum, cool by proxy).  She also just sounds like a tough cookie, and tough cookies usually have some good battle stories.  While I’m sure Kristy can ask more insightful questions relevant to Native American issues, I’d at least like to see how Mankiller views the way the US handles Native American issues vs. the Canadian handling of First Nations (I know, for one thing, you just don’t hear about Native Americans in the news hear…Canadian news–at least from my listening to CBC Radio 1–is full of stories about First Nations).

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