On November 7th 2023, toy magnate Mattel announced that they would be honoring former Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller with the release of her very own Barbie doll, within the brand’s Inspiring Women doll line.
The doll, which was made available for pre-order on the day of announcement, features a design by Carlyle Nuera, who, according to the Mattel Creations website, took inspiration for the doll’s attire from a historic photograph of Mankiller (right), resulting in the doll “wearing a richly pigmented dress with striping to represent the four compass directions” North, South, East, and West.
With no doubt, to become a part of Barbie’s line of dolls depicting successful and inspiring women, Mankiller, who passed in 2010, had a rich past of leadership and social justice work for the Cherokee people. She was elected as the first-ever female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985, and served for a total of 10 years.
Not only was Mankiller breaking the mold as the first Principal Chief– she also fought hard for change for her people. According to the National Women’s History Museum, “she revitalized the Nation’s tribal government, and advocated relentlessly for improved education, healthcare, and housing services. Under her leadership, infant mortality declined, and educational achievement rose in the Cherokee Nation”
For her selfless achievements with the Cherokee Nation, Mankiller was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993, as well as earning the prestigious honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1998.
With the doll’s release, Mankiller joins the likes of other inspirational women, such as Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, and Madam C.J. Walker.
On the doll’s announcement, current Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr., stated, “She not only served in a role dominated by men during a time that tribal nations were suppressed, but she led. Wilma Mankiller is a champion for the Cherokee Nation, for Indian Country and even my own daughter. She truly exemplifies leadership, culture and equality and we applaud Mattel for commemorating her”.
The doll, which retails on the Mattel and Barbie websites for $35, is mostly sold out due to extremely high demand, but can be available for purchase through multiple online retailers, including eBay and Amazon.