Wilma Mankiller: you may not know her name, but you should. She was the first woman elected Chief of the Cherokee nation, but her story is more complex than any list of her achievements would imply.
Born to a Cherokee father and European mother, she was raised with sense of her culture but was influenced by a lot of things. She married young but continued her studies, and upon leaving her husband (with 2 small children in tow), Mankiller underwent a cultural and political awakening. One that led her down the path that would cast her as a role model and inspiration to her people, and to women. But she started out in an entry level position, only wanting to “help her people.”
This documentary is not particularly imaginative when it comes to film making; it is straightforward, with few tricks up its sleeves. But Mankiller is a compelling subject, and a documentary shedding light on her story is important when it is omitted from so many history books. When Mankiller was first elected chief in 1985, it was to a male-dominant political structure that she broke into with patience and tact. She persevered, secure in the knowledge that the traditional Cherokee way was a more gender-balanced approach. She overcame a lot of obstacles in order to improve the lives of her people, and many believed her work with the federal government might have led to a national political career had her own health not stood in the way.
Mankiller has a legacy worth notice. If the story-telling by director Valerie Red-Horse Mohl is a little bland, Mankiller’s message of empowerment and equality still resonates.
Saturday, October 21, 11:15 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Ticket information can be found at the imagineNATIVE website.