June 18th, 2021 Last Updated on: June 18th, 2021
Wilma Mankiller, the first Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, will have her own U.S. quarter next year.
The announcement marks a departure from the U.S. Mint's longstanding tradition of placing mainly past presidents—predominantly older white men—on U.S. currency. It's all part of the American Women Quarters Program that “celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women to the development and history of our country,” according to the U.S. Mint.
- Maya Angelou – celebrated author
- Dr. Sally Ride – first American woman in space
- Wilma Mankiller – first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation
- Adelina Otero-Warren – a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement
- Anna May Wong – first Chinese American film star in Hollywood
“The American Women Quarters Program will feature coins with reverse (tails) designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of prominent American women. Contributions may come from a wide spectrum of fields including, but not limited to, suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space, and the arts,” according to a United States Mint press release.
Six years ago, Mankiller was under consideration to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty-dollar bill. Instead, she'll be immortalized on the 25-cent piece.
The only other women to grace U.S. currency are on coins:
- Sacagawea – golden dollar
- Susan B. Anthony – silver dollar
- Helen Keller – Alabama quarter
- Martha Washington – Dollar Silver Certificate in the late 1800s (discontinued)
Of that group, Sacagawea is the only other Native American woman to have her likeness appear on a U.S. coin. So it's a big victory for Native women, too.
Mankiller (1945–2010) spent her life advocating and fighting for Native rights. She was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, the Cherokee capital, and lived much of her life between California and Oklahoma. Her main goal was to improve the lives of Native individuals while helping to empower them and their communities. In 1985, she became the first woman to ever be elected as the Principal Chief of the Cherokee tribe, and the first woman of any major tribe.
Be on the lookout for the Wilma Mankiller quarter and all of the others, and start collecting them!
Featured Image Credit: U.S. Mint
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