As a child, Wilma’s family was relocated from Oklahoma to San Francisco, and although the move was traumatic, it was in the Bay Area during the turbulent 1960s that she became involved in the fight for civil rights and joined the Alcatraz Occupation. Wilma brought this passion back to her people where she was re-elected for three terms to serve as the Cherokee’s highest leader laying important foundations for the current Nation’s economic and cultural status as one of the most successful tribes in America. Although she considered herself a liberal democrat, as Deputy Chief she served under a conservative Republican and was known as a uniter of all people. Wilma launched many cutting edge initiatives that substantially improved living conditions during her tenure, and in 1990 she signed an unprecedented Cherokee Nation self-determination agreement with the federal government, in which the Nation took control of its funding, programs, and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
In 1998, recognizing her impressive leadership and achievements, President Bill Clinton awarded her the Medal of Freedom. A stalwart activist for women's rights, Wilma Mankiller was cited by the organizers of the January 2017 Women's March on Washington as one of the most important leaders in America's movement for equality. And yet, most people still don’t know her name. MANKILLER reminds audiences of the true meaning of servant leadership and serves as a wakeup call to take action for positive change.
About the filmmaker
Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, Director, and Producer of MANKILLER is of Cherokee ancestry and the owner/founder of Red-Horse Native Productions, Inc. Red-Horse Mohl and her company have become the preeminent collaborator with American Indian tribal nations to bring important Native stories accurately and respectfully to the screen. Valerie’s body of work spans over two decades of film and television content creation and production; always providing insightful, sensitive and unique perspectives for both the historical and contemporary indigenous story. The Company’s premiere feature film, NATURALLY NATIVE, was an official Sundance Festival selection, which Red-Horse wrote, produced, co-directed, starred in and distributed. Red-Horse Mohl followed this with the WWII PBS/ITVS award-winning documentary, TRUE WHISPERS: THE STORY OF THE NAVAJO CODE TALKERS, co-produced with Gale Anne Hurd of Valhalla Entertainment.
Red-Horse Mohl also produced/directed a follow-up program, again with Hurd, CHOCTAW CODE TALKERS (Vision Maker Media/PBS), in 2010.