In Remembrance of Wilma Mankiller

President Obama said this shortly after the passing of the former Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, last April, “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wilma Mankiller today. As the Cherokee Nation’s first female chief, she transformed the Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the Federal Government, and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America…Her legacy will continue to encourage and motivate all who carry on her work.”

This June, Fulcrum will release the memorial edition of Every Day Is a Good Day: Reflections by Contemporary Indigenous Women (978-155591-691-6, $18.95) by Wilma Mankiller, giving readers a rare and often intimate glimpse into the lives of Native women.

In this illuminating book, twenty indigenous female leaders—educators, healers, attorneys, artists, elders, and activists—come together to discuss issues facing modern Native communities. Every Day found its genesis with Mankiller, who over a period of several years, engaged indigenous women in conversation about spirituality, traditions and culture, tribal governance, female role models, love, and community. Their common life experiences and shared values gave them the freedom to be frank and open and a place of community from which to explore powerful influences on Native life.

Here are some of Mankiller’s words from this beautiful book. We hope they inspire you as they do us:

“I learned at a fairly early age that I cannot always control the things that are sent my way or the things that other people do, but I can most certainly control how I think about them and react to them. I don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the negative. I believe that having a good, peaceful mind is the basic premise for a good life. My sense of faith, hope, and optimism stems in part from being a Cherokee woman.”

“My family taught me a lot about love… I now know what a rare gift it was to have parents who did not condition their love on our behavior or personality or even whether they agreed with or entirely understood us. Even when they thought what we were doing was dead wrong or they disagreed with us, they encouraged us to develop our own understanding of things… I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not always known that there were people who loved me.”

“Traditional indigenous knowledge systems and stories acknowledge that the rivers, rocks, trees, plant life, and celestial world are alive with spirit and meaning. When traditional indigenous people speak of their relatives, they are referring to every living thing, not just human kinship. The very identity of traditional tribal people is derived from the natural world, the land, and the community. They understand their own insignificance in the totality of things.”