Friday, March 21, 2014

The Cherokee Word for Role Model, a guest post by Linda Rodriguez

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: If you're a regular here at JRW, there's no need for me to introduce Linda Rodriguez. She's been a vital part of our community for a long time, and she's another friend who has gone from reader, to commenter, to writer, to bursting out of the gate as a published author.  Her first Skeet Bannion novel, EVERY LAST SECRET, won the Malice Domestic Award for Best Traditional Mystery, and you know that's a guarantee of a good read (Yes, I won it myself.)

Skeet Bannion, the Cherokee-Latina chief of campus police, will be back solving crimes and struggling with her complicated personal life in Linda's third novel, EVERY HIDDEN FEAR, which will be out May 6th. Today, Linda tells us about a part of Skeet's heritage - and our own.

I’m paying $33 to attend a movie that I just saw for free a couple of months ago, and I’m still excited about it. My youngest son is going along, and he’s never seen this film before now. I can’t wait for him to share this with me. The showing of the film is a fundraiser for two causes close to my heart, Kansas City Cherokee Community and the Kansas City Indian Center. The movie is called The Cherokee Word for Water, and it’s all about a woman coming into her own power. That woman happens to be my role model and icon, Wilma Mankiller.

Like most women in today’s United States, I’ve had some role models in women in my family and K-12 teachers, but once I reached late adolescence, all my professors were male, teaching me about mostly male writers, thinkers, and doers of great deeds. So I had a lot of male role models out in the world. That’s why strong women role models have been important to me—women who have made a difference in the world in some way, women who have pointed the way to the woman I wanted to become. And in my pantheon of such strong female role models, Wilma Mankiller sits right at the top.

Traditionally, the Cherokee were a matrilineal people. Women owned the land and houses, and the children stayed with their mothers and those extended families in cases of divorce, which were easily obtained by either the husband or wife without rancor or stigma. Women could and did hunt and go to war with the men if they so chose, and the tribe had a special position, the ghigua (Beloved Woman), for women who had gone to war and later married and raised children.

Women shared power with men on the councils that governed the Cherokee towns, and men could not take the town to war unless the ghiguas agreed, since they were considered the wisest, having experienced both genders’ sides of life. One of the first things European men did when encountering the Cherokee was to work hard to persuade the men to throw women out of any access to power. It took over two centuries, but they finally succeeded.

In 20th century Cherokee life, women were treated much as women were elsewhere in the United States, although the more traditionally inclined still retained vestiges of the old egalitarian ways. However, the traditionally inclined were not those who gained power since power within the Cherokee Nation, as within most Indian nations, for centuries had been funneled to those who conformed to what the U.S. government wanted. And for centuries, the U.S. government had wanted the Cherokee to stop listening to their women and turn away from traditional community-based decision-making. When Wilma came along in the 1970s, the government-supported male power structure had become corrupt, and the more traditional members of the tribe had been shunted away from all help or development and lived in grinding poverty without electric power or even access to good, clean water.

Against the wishes of most of the male power structure, Wilma spearheaded a community self-help campaign to bring clean, running water to one of these communities. The film, The Cherokee Word for Water, is about this very first battle of Wilma’s, not the better-known ones when she became Principal Chief. This is about the project where she decided who she would be and became that woman who would later become the first female chief in centuries.

Wilma Mankiller overcame so many obstacles in her life—poverty, the contempt of men in power, chronic pain from an accident that devastated her physically, chronic illnesses, corruption within the tribal government, and more— to become a woman who inspired people all over the world. She believed in the power of community and love, and she built her life on those beliefs, even when it wasn’t easy—and such a life seldom is. She remains one of my heroes. Much of who I am and what I have accomplished in my life I owe to the example set for me by Wilma. I even named my protagonist’s beloved “streetfighter” cat after Wilma, because she’s one of Skeet Bannion’s role models, as well.

Have women role models out in public life played an important part in your life? What women have been role models for you to help you visualize the kind of person you wanted to become?

Linda Rodriguez’s third Skeet Bannion novel, Every Hidden Fear, will be published on May 6 and is available for pre-order now. Her second Skeet mystery, Every Broken Trust, was a selection of Las Comadres National Latino Book Club and featured in Cosmo for Latinas. Her first Skeet novel, Every Last Secret, won the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition and was a Barnes & Noble mystery pick and a finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” has been optioned for film. For her books of poetry, Skin Hunger (Scapegoat Press) and Heart’s Migration (Tia Chucha Press), Rodriguez received numerous awards and fellowships. She is immediate past president of the Borders Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, Kansas City Cherokee Community, and International Thriller Writers. Find her on Twitter as @rodriguez_linda, on Facebook at, and blogs with The Stiletto Gang http:, Writers Who Kill, and her own blog


  1. A wonderful post Linda.

    Wilma Mankiller sounds like quite a lady. I would certainly like to see a world where women were in power. While I don't think it would solve all the problems, I also don't think it would make things worse.

    My mother will always be my main female role-model. As I look back on my life, I realize what sacrifices she made to raise my brother and I as a single mother. All I can do now is constantly tell her how proud I am of her. She wasn't perfect, but then neither were we. No one is - contrary to what some folks would have us believe.

  2. What a powerful story, Linda - so happy to see you here, and thanks for sharing it.

    Women role models... I remember my mother's was Emma Goldman.

    Mine, in the same vein, Mother Jones. And also my friend sociologist Betty Mandel who was once late to our Thanksgiving dinner because she'd chained herself to a fence outside the State House in a protest of rights for prostitutes.

  3. Kristopher, I don't think I'd like to see a world where only women were in power. I'd like to see one like the traditional Cherokee world where power was shared equally among women and men. I suspect that's the most viable type of power that would not trample the needs of any group.

    Your mom sounds remarkable. It's so hard to be a single mother in modern American society. I think more men should have to try to do it--and do it as well as single moms have done it, for the most part.

  4. Hallie, oh yes! Emma Goldman and Mother Jones were fantastic role models, and your friend Betty Mandel sounds like she's cut from the same strong cloth.

    Last summer I went to my first protest in years. I was a real activist, but ill health--and a government (of both parties) that has started making protests irrelevant by forcing them (quite illegally) away from the event or venue which is being protested--have taken a toll on me. But last summer when the Nazis came to KC to hold a rally right downtown, I joined hundreds of my fellow Kansas Citians to show that their hate was not welcome in our city. And the city threatened us with teargas, pepper spray, and mounted police but not the Nazis (who actually tried to provoke street fights, etc.).

  5. Wilma Mankiller is also one of my idols, Linda. Sadly, we don't have nearly enough strong female role models, in my opinion, so we each need to be one ourselves.

    My mother, who was strong when she needed to be, has always been someone who taught me about being a three-dimensional person. She was an imperfect mother, but I've watched her reinvent herself completely from who she was while I was growing up in the 50's and 60's, and I've come to respect and acknowledge the complexity of human beings by doing so. That is a valuable lesson, I think, to know that people are never only one thing or the other.

    And I agree with you, Linda, that we are better served by sharing equally in power. And why should we not? As my husband often says, we are squandering more than half our collective brainpower by ignoring what women can bring to the table.

  6. Great post, Linda, thank you!

    I was not familiar with Wilma Mankiller, but will now start reading up on her.

    I have only recently met some local women here in my hometown of Boone, NC in Watauga County (you have, perhaps, seen us on Rachel Maddow's show concerning voter suppression) who have become my role models. Strong, fierce women fighting for what's right, and who refuse to be squelched.

  7. Linda, you know I've enjoyed the first two Skeet novels, so I'm looking forward to the third. Love the cover.

    I'm with you - I think the traditional Cherokee governmental organization where everyone is valued is probably best - and probably the hardest one to implement (the human ego being what it is and all).

    Congrats on the upcoming book!

  8. A terrific post and topic, Linda!

    As a child who spent too much time at the library, my female role models were both authors: Madeleine L'Engle and Carolyn Keene. The biographies I imagined/invented for these women gave them goddess status. (Was devastated to learn the Nancy Drew novels were ghostwritten and that Keene was a pseudonym.)

    That these women were published meant I could someday publish, too. To a child with no female role models, my imagined ones were huge.

  9. 77Karen, I think that may be the most powerful lesson we can learn in life when we see our mothers reinvent themselves and become who they want to be. My mother never quite managed it, but she gave me the gift of fighting her way out of a dangerously abusive marriage and trying hard to pull herself out of the absolute hole that left her in back when there was no help, only shame, for domestic violence survivors. Unfortunately, cancer cut her life so short that she never managed that final transformation.

  10. Kaye, you and those other women in Boone are my current role models. The voter suppression laws being passed since that disastrous Supreme Court decision are the biggest danger around. If they're allowed to stand, racism, sexism, and all kinds of other bigotry will once again become codified in our laws with us powerless to change them. North Carolina's kind of the canary in the coal mine right now. Thank you for your important work on this.

  11. Thank you, Mary! You're such a sweetheart!

    And why is it so hard for us to establish an egalitarian system of government that will benefit all? It does seem near impossible, but why should that have to be?

  12. Cate, yes, women authors. Back in the day, when I was getting my creative writing degrees, all my profs were affluent white males. And they were good to me and encouraged and supported me--don't want to diss them. But they dismissed all writing by women and non-white writers as not universal. (Never could figure out why war and hunting were universal, but childbirth and marriage were not.) The women writers and writers of color I found along the way were so important to me also. They showed me that I wasn't an idiot for thinking I could do this thing.

  13. Mary "Mother" Jones has been a long-time hero, "fight like hell for the living," and the early suffragists and feminists, and following Wilma Mankiller in the news. I remember the "assertiveness training" we organized back in the 70s, and taking the power to make change. I have tried to model that strength, and may have sometimes succeeded. In a discussion of _Night_ I mused that while I hope I would be brave enough to offer shelter to those in danger, one can't be sure until tested. One of my young women took a long hard look at me and said, "Yes, yes YOU would." I hope so.
    BTW, I'm reading Julia's _A Fountain Filled with Blood_ right now, and it resonates with the discussions of Phelps' death and the legacy of hate he left . . . and the hope I have felt so often when watching my students deal with issues in a much more open and respectful way.

  14. I come from a family of strong women -- my aunts have been great role models for me, especially in terms of education.

    I "discovered" Women's History as a teacher, and every year I had my students enter The Women's Hall of Fame (Seneca Falls, NY) essay contest for Women's History Month (March). I had a few students win the contest, but more importantly, my kids explored the contributions of American women in history.

    Wilma Mankiller was on our list, and our library had a bio of her.

    Looking at public life, I have been inspired by those who use their gifts to make the world a better place.

    And, thank you to all the 20th century feminists.

  15. Marvelous. My parents talk me great respect and interest in Native Americans.
    The world has much to learn from the Cherokee

  16. Mary, yes, I love Mother Jones and her motto. Surprisingly, I learned when I ran a campus women's center that most young women have no clue who she was or that she was a real woman (if they have heard of her). Very sad.

    I think one of the most important things we can do as adults now is to model responsible, inspiring behavior for those who are coming behind us and watching us to learn how to "be" in this troubled world.

  17. And the Captcha is with us today! It just gave me as one of my word things to copy "Selu." Selu was the great First Mother of the Cherokee who gave us corn, the substance of life, even as she was being murdered for it. Selu in Tsalagi means "corn."

  18. What a fantastic question..and so wonderful to see you!

    This really makes me think...Sue Grafton, I'd say. Rosa Parks. Amelia Earhart and Christa MacAuliffe. Women who are brave.

    My love to you and your wonderful family--And oh, I cannot tell you how many people heard the radio interview you did with me! I was at an event in FLA last week, and several people mentioned it! Thank you!


  19. Denise Ann, thank you and all the grade school and high school teachers who work with their students to learn about women's history! Those students are getting a valuable gift of a surfeit of great women role models that our generation and those before us were denied.

  20. Libby, I'm so glad your parents did that. They were rare in teaching that. Respect for Native Americans is not a hallmark of American society, unfortunately.

  21. Hank, Sue Grafton, yes, especially for women crime writers in the late 20th century. She forged a path into a part of crime fiction that had long been closed to women.

    Rosa Parks. Amelia Earhart and Christa MacAuliffe, yes. And so many more brave, inspirational women that we know about now. If we can only live out lives so that we honor the examples they have given us!

    Yes, New Letters on the Air is broadcast all over the country. I have a fan in Hawaii who found me from the interview they did with me about my poetry. Loved interviewing you. You're such a pro! xoxo

    For those who missed it, here's Red Hank's interview on NPR.

  22. Linda, what a wonderful post, and congrats on the new book! Going to pre-order right now!

    I did not know about Wilma Mankiller. Fascinating and inspiring, and I feel a little ashamed of such a gap in my knowledge.

    Female role models? My grandmother. She was a quiet woman and not publicly active, but she taught me to love reading (she'd been a teacher), to love the world (we read National Geographic together--she was so interested in everything, and she convinced me that I could do or be whatever I wanted, a gift beyond compare. She also raised four children on her own during the Depression after my grandfather died very young.

    The first female author to make an impression on me was Madeleine L'Engle. My sixth grade teacher (another wonderful role model) read it to us in class, and I think L'Engle's books were a big part of forming my world view. There were so many others, too; Mary Stewart, Andre Norton, Elizabeth Peters (before I ever knew her as Barbara Mertz...)

    And then there was the scientist Jane Goodall. I wanted to BE her. Still do, I think.

  23. Debs, Wilma wrote one spiritual autobiography, MANKILLER: A CHIEF AND HER PEOPLE, and edited a great anthology of female Indigenous writers, Every Day is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women. I think you'd like them both.

    Madeleine L'Engle was a true role model for me as a female writer who raised children (in a time when they told us women writers had to stay childless or be failures). I read her journals until they fell to pieces. My youngest son was so in love with her work that he owned everything she ever wrote or that was written about here when he was still in grade school.

    And Jane Goodall. My sister the psychologist wanted to be her, also. Mainly so she wouldn't have to deal with other people. LOL we're close, but very opposite in personality.

  24. Excellent post, Linda. Like many others, I had not heard of Wilma Mankiller and appreciate your introducing her to a wider audience.

    My female role models: My mom, who went to work as soon as her 10th child (and youngest) was in school. She had many interests and modeled it was never too late to do anything; just start!

    Four of my teachers (12 years of Catholic schooling), but really, it was my 1st grade teacher, Sr. Ann, who turned me on to reading and
    Dolores Hitchens (mystery writer!), my2nd grade teacher who had the most influence as far as reading and writing.

    Thanks, Linda, for this post, it brought me some great memories to the forefront.

    And congratulations on the third book!

  25. Ah, mothers and teachers! I'd be willing to bet that, for most of us, our mothers/grandmothers and teachers were our very first role models. I know my grandmother was. I gave her to Skeet in my books. (My real Gran died just as I turned thirteen and needed her most.)

    And how many had fabulous women teachers who not only often taught them about great women but modeled for us students women who lived intellectual lives and engaged with history, literature, science, and the other great subjects of the world?

  26. The women in my family were all strong--my grandmother was postmaster of a rural Kentucky post office--after her father's tenure--for decades, my mother made a choice to stay home and raise her eight kids--and I always knew it was a choice--my aunts all worked outside the home, so I never felt limited by a traditional notion of what a woman should be. I greatly admired Jessica Savitch. She reported as knowledgeably and adeptly as any male on a major TV news program in a time when most of the women on the news were doing fluff pieces on local stations.

  27. Linda, I'm at LCC but wanted to drop in to say "hi." And "yay"!

  28. Yes, I do think those women on-air reporters were and are important to women and girls as role models, FChurch. I'd love to see a list of all the women and girls who've been inspired by our own Red Hank. I know I'm one, and I saw her set an example for young would-be journalists of both genders at a local college that I know from their professor is still resonating in their lives.

  29. Hi to you, too, Lisa! Wish I could be there at LCC with all of you! Say hi" to everyone for me, please.

  30. Until the very late Sixties, the verbalized idea of women role models didn't really exist. I had always admired my grandmother for managing to become well-read and literate in English (although her punctuation left something to be desired) after just one year in the "ungraded class" for immigrants. And I wanted to be a writer like Louisa May Alcott and the other women writers (like the Bronte sisters and Laura Ingalls Wilder) whose works I had read growing up.

    But actual role models? Until I went to college, I had never met a woman lawyer (my Government professor was one) or a woman physician. When I went away to school in New York, the only role models I could think of for how to act there were Zelda Fitzgerald (who married a Princeton man, and since I was attending a Seven Sisters college so that seemed one possible direction to go), Lucille Ball (whose persona was ditzy; who knew Lucy had brains when she wasn't in front of a camera?) or the Joan Crawford hard-as-nails types.

    Oh, yeah, there was Eleanor Roosevelt, but one couldn't really model oneself on HER unless one was born into that kind of family and then married into more of it. The First Ladies I knew before I went to college (Jackie appeared on the scene just as I finished high school) were Mamie and Bess, not exactly role models. Or Mary Todd Lincoln, who really wasn't one either.

    So I didn't really have role models until I was already on the verge of adulthood. I think today's young women are luckier; they have all of us, as well as the Sheryl Sandburgs and Nancy Pelosis and Hillaries of the world. You don't have to write as "George Elliot" or "George Sand" unless you want to. And discrimination is rarely verbalized as it was the day I started law school (1966) when I was told I was "taking a man's place" or three years later when I interviewed for a job in a law firm that wanted a woman lawyer because they "wouldn't have to pay her as much." (I walked out of that interview but a classmate was willing to work for them even on those terms!)

  31. Ellan, you're absolutely right. And one of the things I find disheartening is the number of younger women who really don't understand that not very long ago this is the way the world was. It was only in the 1980s that my own state of Missouri stopped allowing men to violently rape their wives and use marriage as a written-into-rhe-law, absolute defense and allowing men to take any money their wives earned or inherited in their own right away from them and deny them access to it. And Missouri wasn't the last of the states to repeal those laws.

    I think it's important for us to make sure that younger women (and men) are educated about what life used to be like for women if we want to ensure that things won't slide back to those bad old days after we're gone.

  32. Linda, as a girl I had few women role models. There was my great-grandmother who rescued me, then Auntie-Mom who started watching out for me when she was 10. I looked up to them, because they took care of me. I didn't realize how difficult that was for them until I looked back as an adult. Another aunt I loved tried to adopt me but was unable to. While she wanted to help she was scared off.

    Auntie-Mom just did what she saw she should do. Even at her young age she raised money from her sisters to buy me a pair of shoes. She wasn't afraid to tell the story that convinced them to share their allowance or earnings from work. If it were not for Auntie-Mom my family history would have destroyed me before it was able to sort itself out and repair what could be repaired.

    We watched each other grow up. I don't know what she sees when she looks at me. When I look at her I see strength and guts, and purpose, fun and dedication.

    Auntie-Mom is almost 80. She still goes camping and hiking. She drives to Mexico every year for her medical and dental care. She is married to her 4th husband who is 10 years younger than she is. She quit school at 15 to become a nurse. You could do that then. Now she is a retired RN who isn't really retired. It's time to call her before she and her current husband, Uncle-FrenchDude, take off on another camping and fishing trip. You would love them.

  33. Reine, your Auntie-Mom sounds like someone I would truly love. You're right. And I'm grateful to her--I'm sure we all are here at Jungle Reds--for saving you.

    I haven't talked about the women who did that kind of thing for me. My late Aunt Joan who took in six abandoned kids on a moment's notice without a cent of support to add to her own four in a house the size of my current living room without indoor plumbing or running water while in desperate poverty herself. She's also the one who made me promise to learn Tsalagi, the Cherokee language, shortly before she died. Woman of valor! It's her daughter, my cousin Marquitta, whom I named my protagonist after.

    And there were others. They are all the reasons that, with a violent, sexually abusive background like mine, I didn't wind up on the streets or dead of suicide or drug overdose at an early age. And I can't thank them. All I can do is try to pass it on to the next generation in need of protection and help.

  34. Thank you, Linda. Especially thank you for telling your own story. That has special power. xo

  35. Linda, so lovely to see you on Jungle Reds!

    Here's a story I hope will be encouraging — my 9-year-old is learning about the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and already knows about Rosa Parks. Which lead to an interesting discussion of, "Mommy, where would I have sat on the bus?" The answer was, "Well, it depends on who you were with. If you were with mommy, who looks white, you could sit in the front. If you were with Grandmama or Daddy, who are Black, you'd have to sit in the back." Quite the food for thought.

  36. Susan, I'm so glad your little one is learning about Rosa Parks already. I'm sure the discussion of her story must have been very difficult for your child to understand. America's a particularly tough place for mixed-race, mixed-blood, mestizo children. This country has such a dreadful history that it's not really confronted, so it's got a lot of baggage and screwy thinking around concepts of "race" and "blood" and "worthiness." It's especially tough for a kid to learn that part of his/her family is acceptable and part is not when s/he loves them all.

    My own kids have such a mixed heritage--Latino, Cherokee, Choctaw, Scottish, English, Dutch and Irish (from the Latino!), Spanish, and several Mexican Indigenous peoples. Plus I've told them that since both sides of my family were in the deep South pre-Civil War, we probably have a good chance of having African American as well. I tried to give them a basis in all of their heritages because this country will try to force them to choose only one.

  37. Linda, we may have discussed this privately… can't recall, but I want to say here that I've had that identity struggle most of my life. I didn't have it when I was a girl. Then I accepted easily that I had differences across my heritage, some that were not accepted by others even in my family, including some who rejected parts of their own heritage and identity, parceling themselves out to the highest acceptable bidder.

    Later on in college I found there was a great pressure to choose one over the other. I was convinced that I was splitting myself and weakening my sense of self, if not my place, in the world.

    When I was young there must have been some of that pressure in my family that I wasn't hearing or feeling. But when I was older it was unrelenting and dangerously logical. You helped me return to myself in a way that no one else in my life dared approach and could not, because how would they know. Since I have had this conversation with people, but you opened it up for me. I feel like myself again.

  38. Reine, it's a common situation. Life is very tough for those who have mixed heritage in the US--and many who have mixed heritage don't know they do because someone in their line of descent decided to take the easy way (or in some cases, the way of survival) and passed for white. Not judging those ancestors because in some cases they were doing it to make life easier or even possible for their children and future descendants. For example, there was still a bounty for killing California Indians until the 1930s. People aren't aware of how recently it was absolutely dangerous to be honest about your Indian blood.

    If I've helped you in dealing with that, I'm truly glad.

  39. Linda, you have helped with that. I still have a little resentment to work on, I see. :-)

  40. Wow! So many role models. I am going to look for the autobiography about Wilma Mankiller.

    My mom and maternal grandmother are wonderful role models for me. Outside my family, I would include Gloria Steinem and Helen Keller. There are many wonderful role models out there. And though she's fictional, I loved Wonder Woman because she was brave.

    Look forward to reading your books,

  41. Reine, I think I've mentioned before Deborah Miranda's remarkable book, Bad Indians (Heyday Press). I reviewed it on my blog when it came out, and I push it on everyone I know. Though she concentrates on the history of the particular California tribe (Esselen-Chumash), the heartbreaking story she traces could have been that of many or most tribes in the US. For those who want to understand the legacy today of what has happened to Indians in the US and how recently they were still in danger, it's the best non-academic book (though Deborah is a professor) I can recommend. It's also useful for understanding how it was that many Indigenous people, even in fairly recent times, felt they had to pass as something, anything else. Perhaps it would help you understand your family members and their decisions more, dear Reine.

  42. DT, Helen Keller absolutely. Most today only know her from The Miracle Worker about her childhood, not that she was a huge activist for women's rights, civil rights, worker's rights, and peace/anti-war.

    And Gloria Steinem, what a woman! She actually was a major funder of the film, THE CHEROKEE WORD FOR WATER. She's still active out there in the world, trying to make positive changes. Remarkable role model for all of us.

    And Wonder Woman, the first real feminist superhero. Still probably the only real one (though I understand they're trying to turn her into just Superman's girlfriend--gag!).

  43. Linda, thank you. I will order the book by Deborah Miranda that you suggested, Bad Indians (Heyday Press). The tribes I am aware of for my family are First Nations from QC, NS, and NB, mostly Mi'kmaq. I'm guessing the principle would be the same, although my grandfather from Québec was good with that up there, he said the family went into denial in the States.

  44. As bad as Canada's record is with First Nations, the US's is worse. So take that into consideration, Reine. I think you'll like Deborah's book. It's beautifully written.

  45. So many wonderful examples of role models have already been mentioned here today. Thanks for a truly thought-provoking post . . . .

  46. The comments are as full as the post. :) I love that. Thank you for sharing Wilma with those who have not heard of her. I plan to learn more about her this weekend.

  47. Robyn, I'm so glad. I was surprised that so many hadn't heard of Wilma. She had received so much media attention when she was alive. But I'm really glad that I was able to help more people find out about her. She was a really remarkable woman and an inspiration for everyone, I think. I think you'll enjoy learning about her. :-)

  48. What a great post--I knew only the name Wilma Mankiller, but now I know a bit more and have added the autobiography and "Every Day is a Good Day" to my library list. I just finished Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," and while it has many good observations,it's very limited in terms of race and class in what it has to say about women leaders.

    As a girl, my mom taught me a lot about resilience, I think, in terms of not dwelling on bad things. Of course, this is frequently taken too far in my family. Thankfully, I was a naturally proud, samrt girl who went to college and was introducd to feminism and radical politics. Emma Goldman was one of my early heroes, as was Barbara Smith, a Black author and feminist who taught a class at the U of Minnesota in '86. Later, as I was working to get back to school (parents lost the farm, and my tuition) I worked as a home chore person for a retired psychiatric nurse who was so supportive. She got me introduced to connections at the School of Social Work in Madison, and I earned my Master's in 1993. I thank Julieanne Murphy every day for my life as I'm living it!

  49. Judybusy, it sounds as if you've had a number of great role models, especially Julieanne Murphy! I'm so glad you got to learn more about Wilma Mankiller.

    This has been a great experience--as guesting on Jungle Reds always is--and I'd like to thank all the Reds and the backbloggers and other visitors for such a stimulating conversation.