Vanessa Mankiller passed away Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in her home on Mankiller Flats, with her children by her side.
Vanessa was born Aug. 2, 1953, in Tahlequah, to Charley and Irene Mankiller. Vanessa spent most her childhood in San Francisco, Calif., where she spent time on Alcatraz Island during its occupation by Indians of all tribes from 1969-’71. She cared for native people and supported them in any way she could. Helping natives was one reason she went to law school and practiced law, even volunteering for different native non-profit organizations to help Indians.
She came back to raise her children in Mankiller Flats. She enjoyed Cherokee culture and traditions like beading, Stompdance, cooking frybread and making moccasins for her grandbabies. Vanessa spent most of her life raising her seven children. She taught her children to respect their elders and loved spending time with her grandchildren. Her family was very important to her. She enjoyed playing cards every Sunday at her mom’s with her family.
Vanessa was preceded in death by her father, Charley Mankiller; three brothers, Robert Charles Mankiller, John David Mankiller and Richard Colson Mankiller; sisters, Wilma Pearl Mankiller and Linda Jean Mankiller Sanchez; brother-in-law, Bob Willingham; nephew, Smokey Mankiller; and niece, Laura Rackliff.
Those left to cherish her memory are her mother, Clara Irene Mankiller of Mankillers Flats; brothers, Donald Louis Mankiller and wife Tjyiana of Mulberry Hollow, James Ray Mankiller and wife Lula of Keys, and William Edward Mankiller and wife Annette of Rocky Mountain; sisters, Freida Marie Mullins of Mankiller Flats and Francis Kay Willingham of Tahlequah; daughters, Theresia Irene Erickson and partner Erika Mueller of Eugene, Ore., Sarah Elyse Bearpaw of the home and Rachel Pearl Bearpaw and boyfriend Faron Pritchett of Tahlequah; and one special daughter, Felicia Olaya and significant Wendell Wing of Tahlequah; sons, Frank James Erickson and wife Michele of Tahlequah, Abraham Colson Bearpaw of California, Daniel Evan Bearpaw and John Gabriel Mankiller of the home; grandchildren, Patrick Erickson, Aidan James Bearpaw, William Colson Leech, Jade Erickson, Katrice Pearl Grass, Vanessa Bearpaw, Anawake Lou Bearpaw, Amelia Elyse Pritchett, Kodee Irene Pritchett, Kara Elizabeth Lynch, Alana Bearpaw, Ayahna Bearpaw, Trenton Adair, Kylee Elaine Pritchett, Nowa Bearpaw, Evan James Bearpaw and Richard Bear Mueller; as well as many nieces, nephews, relatives, loved ones and friends.
There will be a wake at her home on Mankiller Flats, Friday, Oct. 19, at 5 p.m. Services will be at Echota Church in Rocky Mountain on Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m., with Interment following at Echota Cemetery, directed by Reed-Culver Funeral Home.
Green Country Funeral Home, 203 S. Commercial Road, (918) 458-5055.