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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller died today of pancreatic cancer. I was only made aware of her within the last year, but some of her writing about her own experiences have really reached home for me. My list of personal heroes is very short, mostly because I believe that a lot of people are elevated wrongly as role models or idolized as "heroes" without actually doing anything very heroic. That said, Wilma Mankiller is one of my heroes and perhaps one of the best examples of a good role model.
Eve Ensler had this to say about her in an interview: "I always tell her we should enroll as Cherokees and have you as President".
Mankiller has a poignant way of expressing her feelings through her writing that orchestrates a perfectly lucid feeling in me. When she describes her father's death, it "tore through her spirit like a blade of lightning".
While I would not be so brazen as to describe her faith as pagan (being contemporary pagan myself, I know and acknowledge there is a distinct difference), she gave me words to express the frustration I have while trying to maintain my religious beliefs in a mainstream world that views my beliefs as Undesirable. She is one of the few people who helped me accept that my beliefs are valid, acceptable, desirable.

I hope she passes peacefully on her new journey. I, for one, will feel her absence dearly.

Here is a speech she gave at Sonoma State University to leave you with some thoughts about her life and work:

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