Wilma Mankiller Quarter Launch

By Office of Corporate Communications
June 24, 2022

man speaking at a podium
Wilma Mankiller Quarter launch ceremony in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

The Wilma Mankiller Quarter debuted to the public in a launch event in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on June 6, 2022. This is the third coin released in the American Women Quarters™ (AWQ) Program. Approximately 800 people attended the event, and even more live streamed it on YouTube.

In 1987, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. Her administration focused on improving health care, education, jobs, and other community development initiatives. Under her leadership, infant mortality declined, educational levels rose, and employment doubled. After leaving office in 1995, she remained a strong voice worldwide for social justice, native people, and women.

The quarter launch, presented by BancFirst and the Cherokee Nation, was held at the Chota Conference Center. Representatives from the United States Mint, the Cherokee Nation, BancFirst, and Wilma Mankiller’s family took part in the ceremony. Attendees were welcomed to the event by traditional Cherokee flute music performed by Cherokee National Treasure, Tommy Wildcat. Special guest Breanna Olaya-Morton, Mankiller’s granddaughter, sang with the Cherokee Adult Choir and Cherokee National Youth Choir.

T.V. Johnson, U.S. Mint Chief of the Office of Corporate Communications, discussed the AWQ Program and the Wilma Mankiller Quarter design.

Author and political activist Gloria Steinem also spoke to the crowd and emphasized the impact of Mankiller’s legacy. “We will be able to treasure the presence of Wilma’s image daily in our hands and in our hearts,” Steinem said.

Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate and member of the Mvskoke Nation, read one of Mankiller’s poems. She also shared how she believes Mankiller would feel about being honored on a quarter. “Wilma would appreciate that the quarter gives a face to Native people, to women, and might inspire some young person to ask ‘Who is that, and what is their story?'”

Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin, Jr. remarked, “Even years after her passing, Chief Mankiller is still making an impact. She’s not changing the world simply on this day because her likeness is being struck on the quarter, her likeness is being struck on the quarter because she keeps changing the world for the better.”

The Mint presented shadow boxes to Charlie Soap, widower of Wilma Mankiller; Felicia and Gina Olaya, Mankiller’s daughters; Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.; former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Ross Swimmer; and to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The shadow boxes contained two Wilma Mankiller quarters made by the Philadelphia and Denver Mints from the first day of production.

Following the ceremony, BancFirst hosted a coin exchange where the public could trade cash for rolls of Wilma Mankiller Quarters. The bank exchanged $43,000 in quarters.

Watch a recap of the event on YouTube.

hands exchanging $20 for rolls of quarters
Coin exchange at the Wilma Mankiller Quarter launch event.

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