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Be the Change Week includes Wilma Mankiller Day

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- As part of a special week at Northeastern State University, student and campus organizations will salute the life and deeds of Wilma Mankiller – former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, community activist and agent of change.

Wilma Mankiller Day begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, in the basement of the University Center at 612 N. Grand Ave. The event, which includes a hog fry, is free and open to the public.

"I believe it speaks well of the students that they recognized the work of Mankiller and wanted to honor her," said Dr. Jennifer McCann, director of the Indigenous Scholar Development Center (ISDC). "When she was a Sequoyah Fellow at NSU, she planted the seeds of the Indigenous Leadership Center, for which we in the ISDC are laying the foundation. This is a way for all to show that we appreciate and support the work Mankiller did throughout her lifetime."

The day celebrating Mankiller is part of Be the Change Week at Northeastern, which will observe the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service with volunteer work at local schools on Monday before honoring Gloria Steinem on Tuesday and the Greensboro Four on Wednesday.

"We will open with a slide show featuring photos taken throughout Mankiller's career," McCann said. "The formal start of the program will begin about 10:30 a.m. with video clips of Mankiller giving her Attributes of Leadership lecture. Students of the Native American Student Association (NASA) will provide the opening drum and there will be a presentation of the Cherokee Nation Color Guard."

Entry of speakers, dancers and singers will continue the program. Speakers include Pamela Iron, who served as the Health Director and Chief of Staff during Mankiller's administration; Mankiller's daughters Gina Olaya and Felicia Olaya; and her widower Charlie Soap. Local vocal artist Mary Kay Henderson will sing and students will read excerpts from Mankiller's books. The hog fry will begin between 11:30 a.m. and noon.

A screening of The Cherokee Word For Water, which relates the efforts of Mankiller and Soap to bring a water line to the community of Bell through the Bell Waterline Project, begins at 6:30 p.m. Soap will introduce the film and facilitate a panel discussion afterward. The screening will take place in Ballroom C in the University Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Wilma Mankiller Day is presented by the ISDC, the Division of Student Affairs, the Division of Academic Affairs, the College of Liberal Arts, the Cherokee Language Program, the Center for Tribal Studies, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the Native American Student Association, the American Association of University Women and the American Democracy Project.

For more information about Wilma Mankiller Day at NSU or to RSVP call the ISDC at 918-444-3042 or write to

Published: 1/15/2013 4:05:15 PM

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