Cherokee Nation Celebrates Launch Of Chief Wilma Mankiller Barbie Doll

The first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation is now a Barbie, but the tribe says this isn't just a toy for someone to play with, it's a way to share the legacy of a very influential Cherokee Citizen.

Tuesday, December 5th 2023, 3:49 pm

By: News On 6, Matt Rahn


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The Cherokee Nation is celebrating former Chief Wilma Mankiller becoming a Barbie as part of Mattel's Inspiring Women Series.

The first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation is now a Barbie, but the tribe says this isn't just a toy for someone to play with, it's a way to share the legacy of a very influential Cherokee Citizen.

"It's like a party in here."

In a room full of pink, hundreds of people gather to celebrate Wilma Mankiller, the newest Barbie.

"This isn't even really mine, this is my friend's," laughs Shadow Hardbarger.

She holds the pristine unboxed Barbie, made in the likeness of her great aunt.

"She was my grandma's sister and so we're here to celebrate her legacy in the Barbie Inspiring Women Series," says Hardbarger.

The new toy in Shadow's hands is more than that, it's a reminder of a Cherokee leader who fought for healthcare, and indigenous rights, and inspired

"Before her, no one thought about a woman being a chief of the Cherokee Nation and then she started inspiring a lot more girls to get into politics, especially tribal politics," says Harbarger.

Shadow says Mankiller was a modest leader and isn't sure what she would have thought about a room full of people touting her accomplishments while holding a Barbie version of herself.

"I feel like she doesn't really idolize herself, she was very humble ... she just wanted to do what was right for the nation," she says.

If the newest Barbie does anything, Shadow hopes, it teaches children today what it means to be a leader.

"We have a lot to say and we've been kind of quiet for so long, so being able to get out there and be like hey we're still here, we want you to know we have really amazing people in our tribe," says Hardbarger.

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