Cherokee artist Trisha Eagle carved this traditional Cherokee hair comb from Mankiller pearl shell. In 1987, the Cherokee Legislature renamed the native mussel shellfish found in lakes and rivers of eastern Oklahoma in honor of Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Mankiller also served as the first woman deputy chief and became principal chief in 1985 when Chief Ross Swimmer resigned. Cherokee voters elected Mankiller as chief in 1987 and again in 1991. She served as principal chief until 1995. Her tenure in office was marked by community-development projects including tribal businesses and infrastructure improvements. Mankiller wrote in her autobiography that she wanted to be remembered “for emphasizing the fact that we have indigenous solutions to our problems.”
Source: Phone interview, July 2013.