Mattel announces new doll modeled after Wilma Mankiller

One month ago, Mattel announced coming out with a new doll. In honor of Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, the doll is a part of their “Inspiring Women” series and is meant to resemble the late chief. Many people are happy about it but there have also been criticisms.

Who was Wilma Mankiller?

From 1985 to 1995, Mankiller served as chief of the Cherokee Nation. She was originally from Oklahoma but the Federal government moved her family, as well as other Native American families, to an urban area. Her family specifically moved to San Francisco. Mankiller first got into activism when a group of Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Prison/Island as an opposition to the U.S. government.
She began to work for the Cherokee Nation where she focused on community development and arranged a workforce to lead running water to the Bell Community in Adair Community. She was even deputy chief before becoming principal chief.

Mattel’s Doll

The new doll representing Wilma Mankiller has dark hair, a turquoise dress, and carries a basket. Chuck Hoskin Jr., principle chief of the Cherokee Nation, mentioned how the basket is not authentic to her culture. The packaging also has Cherokee symbols but Hoskin revealed that the symbols translate to “Chicken Nation” instead of “Cherokee Nation.”

However, for the most part, the Cherokee Nation is quite positive about this doll. A Cherokee citizen, Catina Drywater said “When this came out, I just knew I had to have one.” Mattel was even willing to speak with members of the Cherokee Nation. There have also been events celebrating this doll.

Mattel has been in the spotlight recently after the hit film Barbie grossed over $1.44 billion globally in 2023. The company is continuing to expand its horizons and has recently announced there will be an American Girl Doll movie.

Featured image credit: Mattel Creations