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In native American communities across the United States, more women are running for tribal offices. It's been a trend since the mid-1980s, says

Michael Anderson, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians.

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"I see more women taking on leadership roles in tribes," says Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller, who is one of about 15 women chiefs in the US.

"There's been a gender empowerment movement," Mr. Anderson says. "That's something that Wilma's kind of led - serving as a role model for other Indian women who want to run for office."

LaDonna Harris, president of Americans for Indian Opportunity, says women used to hold important positions in their tribes, but "we've had difficulties more as we mimicked Western societies. Now we're ... revitalizing our own values, and women are playing the roles they've always played."

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