The Wilma Mankiller Foundation works with indigenous communities to carry on Wilma Mankiller’s legacy of social justice and community development in Indian Country and beyond. The mission of the Foundation is to support and promote culturally appropriate media and community development.

Wilma believed strongly that public perception of Native people drives public policy. The first initiative of the Wilma Mankiller Foundation Fund was the award-winning feature film, The Cherokee Word for Water, released in 2013. Based on the true story of the Bell Waterline Project, the movie is about a community coming together to improve its life condition. Led by Wilma Mankiller, who went on to become the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, and fullblood Cherokee organizer Charlie Soap, they join forces and build nearly twenty miles of waterline using a community of volunteers. In the process, they inspire the community to trust each other, and reawaken universal indigenous values of reciprocity and interconnectedness. The successful completion of the waterline sparked a movement of similar self-help projects across the Cherokee nation and in Indian country that continues to this day.

The Foundation currently is working with communities, churches and community members to create sustainable food projects in rural Cherokee communities. These projects pair youth with adult mentors to learn more of their culture as they cultivate gardens and gather traditional wild harvests. The projects involve neighbors helping neighbors with everything from plowing to canning and preparing healthy food for community members in need. The healthy food production is important because these communities are generally food deserts and the projects also provide a tool for teaching good nutrition, youth leadership, entrepreneurship, and even math and science.

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Your generous gift will help the Mankiller Foundation to carry on Wilma’s legacy.

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Our Projects

The projects undertaken by the Wilma Mankiller Foundation support community development and focus on two essentials of life, water and food: promoting the movie and message of The Cherokee Word for Water, and our healthy food/community gardens projects underway in Adair, Cherokee and Muskogee counties. Read more about each below.

The Cherokee Word for Water

The movie continues to inspire and engage people wherever it goes. In November, we partnered with Comcast/Xfinity to offer the movie as a free streaming option during Native American Heritage Month. Comcast felt we showed impressive results, reaching 30,000 homes during just one month.That same month we were recognized by American Indian Film Institute as the best Indian film of the last 40 years.

The upcoming PBS documentary Charlie and Kristina helped produce will again focus attention on the movie and Foundation because both will be highlighted in the press around the documentary.

The Roger Vann “Gadugi” Farm Projects

The Foundation is working with communities, churches and community members to create sustainable food projects in rural Cherokee communities. These projects pair youth with adult mentors to learn more of their culture as they cultivate gardens and gather traditional wild harvests. The projects involve neighbors helping neighbors with everything from plowing to canning and preparing healthy food for community members in need. The healthy food production is important because these communities are generally food deserts and the projects also provide a tool for teaching good nutrition, youth leadership, entrepreneurship, and even math and science.

Own The Cherokee Word for Water

The Cherokee Word for Water, voted Best American Indian Film of the last 40 years by AIFI, is an award-winning feature-length motion picture that tells the story of the work that led Wilma Mankiller to become the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

Buy DVD or Blu-Ray

News about Mankiller Documentary

Excitement is building for the PBS documentary, “Mankiller,” being co-produced by Valerie Red-Horse and The Walking Dead Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, and expected to be broadcast later this year. Also serving as producers on the film are Wilma’s widower Charlie Soap, and her close friend, Kristina Kiehl. Keep an eye on this page for public television broadcast details once they are announced. 

 

Learn more about the project:

NewsOK
Tulsa World
Valhalla Entertainment

I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves. Wilma Mankiller

First Woman Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation

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