Nanyehi (Cherokee: ᎾᏅᏰᎯ: "One who goes about"), known in English as Nancy Ward (ca. 1738–1822 or 1824) was a Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, which means that she was allowed to sit in councils and to make decisions, along with the chiefs and other Beloved Women.
She believed in peaceful coexistence with the European-Americans and helped her people as peace negotiator and ambassador. She also introduced them to farming and dairy production bringing
substantial changes to the Cherokee society.
Nanyehi was born around 1738 in the Cherokee capital, Chota (Cherokee: “City of Refuge”) in what today is known as Monroe County, Tennessee. Her mother, the sister of Attakullakulla was a member of the Wolf Clan. Though her mother is often referred to as "Tame Doe", the name is from a fictional story by E. Sterling King  and has no other historical source. James Mooney writes "it is said her (Nancy's) father was a British officer named
Ward". However, according to Nanyehi's descendant John Walker "Jack" Hildebrand, her father was a member of the Delaware tribe.
About 1751 she married the Cherokee "Tsu-la" or Kingfisher, who according to Emmett Starr was a member of the
Deer Clan. Starr writes that in the Battle of Taliwa against the Creeks Nancy lay behind a log in order to chew his bullets so that the resulting jagged edges might create more damage. Kingfisher was killed, and Nancy picked up his rifle and continued the fight leading her people to victory.
at the age of 18 she was awarded with the title of “Ghigau”, making her a member of the tribal council of chiefs.
She was also named the leader of the Women’s Council of Clan Representatives and took over the role of ambassador and
negotiator for her people.
She remarried to Bryan Ward with whom she had a daughter Betsy, who later became the wife of General Joseph Martin.
In the beginnings of the 1760s the Cherokees had entered an alliance
with the American colonists who were fighting the French and Indian War. In exchange for their assistance the European-Americans
promised to protect them against the Creeks and Choctaws. This led to the building of military stations and frontier posts
in Cherokee land and with them, settlers came into the nation. After an incident in West Virginia where frontiersmen killed
a group of Cherokees, who were returning from the conquering of Fort Duquesne helping the British, the Natives killed more
than 20 settlers in order to get revenge. A two year lasting conflict began in which the Cherokees accomplished to capture
Fort Loudin defeating the British forces.
As a Ghigau, Nancy had the power to spare captives and in 1776, following
a Cherokee attack on the Fort Watauga settlement on the Watauga River (at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee), she used that power to spare a Mrs. William (Lydia Russell) Bean, whom she took into her house and nursed back to health
from injuries suffered in the battle. Mrs. Bean taught Nanyehi a new loom weaving technique, revolutionizing the Cherokee
garments, which at the time were a combination of hides, handwoven vegetal fiber cloth, and cloth bought from traders. This
weaving revolution also changed the roles of women in the Cherokee society, as they took on the weaving and left men to do
the planting, which had traditionally been a woman's job.
Mrs. Bean also rescued two of her dairy cows from the settlement, and brought them to Nanyehi, who learned to raise the cattle and to eat dairy products, which would
sustain the Cherokee when hunting was bad.
On June 12, 1793, a delegation had gathered at Hanging Maugh's preparing
to proceed to Philadelphia in compliance with an invitation from the President. The delegation was attacked without warning
by a company of whites led by Captain John Beard, and Nancy's daughter Elizabeth was killed. Captain Beard was tried before
a court martial but was acquitted.
Emmet Starr writes that Nancy was a successful cattle raiser and is said to have been the first to introduce
that industry among the Cherokees. The combination of loom weaving and dairy farming helped transform Cherokee society from a communal agricultural society
into a society very similar to that of their European-American neighbors, with family plots and the need for ever-more labor.
Thus some Cherokee adopted the practice of chattel slavery. Nanyehi was among the first Cherokee to own African-American slaves.
After a truce, Carolina Rangers and Royal Scots joined the British light infantry invading Cherokee territory burning
crops and towns. The Cherokees surrendered giving up a large portion of their lands.
The Cherokees had to face multiple issues during the Revolutionary
War. On one hand, they were helping the British on the other, they were arguing about whether to use force to expel the settler
on their land or not. Ward’s cousin, Dragging Canoe, wanted to ally with the British against the settlers but the Cherokees’ Beloved Woman was trying to support them.
In May 1775, a group of Delaware, Mohawk and Shawnee emissaries formed a delegation which headed south to support the British
who were trying to gain the help of the Cherokees and other tribes. In July of the same year, Dragging Canoe led the Chickamauga
Cherokee band in attacks against the European-American settlements and forts located in the Appalachians and other isolated
areas of the region. State militias retaliated destroying Native villages and crops and forced the tribe to give up more of
their land by 1777.
In July 1776, Ward, who was aiming for a peaceful resolution, warned a group of white settlers living
near the Holston River and on the Virginia border about an imminent attack of her people.
The British supported Dragging
Canoe’s war against the settlers supplying weapons but in 1778, 600 soldiers under Colonel Evan Shelby attacked his
territory and limited the Cherokee resistance to a minor conflict.
In 1780, Ward continued warning American soldiers
of attacks trying to prevent retaliations against her people. According to Felton she even sent food in form of cattle to
the starving militia. Her efforts couldn’t prevent another invasion of the Cherokee territory by the North Carolina
militia, who destroyed more villages demanding further land cessions. Ward and her family were captured in the battle but
they were eventually released and returned to Chota.
One year later, in July, the Beloved Woman negotiated a peace treaty
between her people and the Americans. After the treaty the Americans were able to send troops to support George Washington’s
army against the British General Cornwallis in the American Revolution.
Ward continued promoting alliance and mutual
friendship between the Cherokees and the colonists, as she showed during the negotiation of the Treaty of Hopewell (1785).
She led the Cherokee in the implementation of farming and dairy production. Later on she advised her people not to sell land
to the settlers but failed in the attempt.
Since she was too sick to attend the Cherokee council in 1817 in which it
was discussed whether to move west or not, according to Felton, she sent a letter writing: “…don’t part
with any more of our lands but continue on it and enlarge your farms and cultivate and raise corn and cotton and we, your
mothers and sisters, will make clothing for you… It was our desire to forewarn you all not to part with our lands,"
but despite her efforts in 1819 the lands north of the Hiwassee River were sold, forcing her to move.
Nanyehi objected to the sale of Cherokee lands to whites, but
her objections were largely ignored. In 1808 and again in 1817, the Women's Council came out in opposition to the sale of
more and more land.
Nanyehi became a de facto ambassador between the Cherokee and the whites. She learned the art of
diplomacy from her maternal uncle, the influential chief Attakullakulla ("Little Carpenter"). In 1781, when the Cherokee met with an
American delegation led by John Sevier to discuss American settlements along the Little Pigeon River, Nancy expressed surprise that there were no women negotiators among the Americans. Sevier was equally appalled that such
important work should be given to a woman. Nancy told him, "You know that women are always looked upon as nothing; but we
are your mothers; you are our sons. Our cry is all for peace; let it continue. This peace must last forever. Let your women's
sons be ours; our sons be yours. Let your women hear our words." An American observer said that her speech was very moving.
July 5, 1807, the Moravian mission school at Spring Place, Georgia, in the Cherokee Nation, was visited by three elderly women,
including a very distinguished lady who had been a widow of fifty years and almost one hundred years old. She was described
as "an unusually sensible person, honored and loved by both brown and white people." "This old woman, named Chiconehla, is
supposed to have been in a war against an enemy nation and was wounded numerous times...Her left arm is decorated with some
designs, which she said were fashionable during her youth...." Chiconehla stayed for two days, entertained by the students
and discussing theology with the missionaries with the aid of translating by her distant relative, Mrs. James Vann (Margaret
Scott). The circumstances of this high status woman leave little doubt that this Cherokee named Chiconehla was identical to
the person known as Nancy Ward.
Nancy Ward opened an inn in southeastern Tennessee on Womankiller Ford of what was then called the Ocowee
River (present day Ocoee River). Her son cared for her during her last years. She died in 1822, or possibly 1824, before the Cherokee were removed from
their remaining lands during the Trail of Tears. She and her son Fivekiller are buried at the top of a hill not far from the site of the inn, which is south of present-day
Benton, Tennessee. In 1923 the Nancy Ward chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Chattanooga, placed a memorial marker at the grave sites near Benton, Tennessee. Polk County, Tennessee, where Benton is located, is trying to raise money to create a Nancy Ward Museum. The Polk County Historical and Genealogical
Society currently maintains a Nancy Ward Room in their genealogy library until such a time as the museum is created.
her death she was mentioned in many stories. Teddy Roosevelt mentions her in his works Book on The West, The Virginia State
Papers, The South Carolina State Papers, Mooney's Book, and The Draper Collection and a chapter of the The American Daughters
Of the Revolution in Tennessee carries her name.
Ward was the last woman to receive the title of Beloved Woman until
the 1980s, when Maggie Wachacha was given the title.
A statue of Nancy Ward, carved by James Abraham Walker, stood in a cemetery in Grainger County, Tennessee for about 70 years before it was stolen in the early 1980s.
Nancy Ward is not only remembered as an
important figure to the Cherokee people but is also considered an early pioneer for women in American politics as she advocated
for a woman's voice during a turbulent period in her tribe's history.
According to documentation on the web-site RootsWeb, Ward wrote
to the President of the United States asking for help "Our people would have more hoes, plows, seed, cotton carding and looms
for weaving. They would learn your way of cultivation. If you would send these things we will put them to good use." In her
last years Ward repeatedly had a vision showing a "great line of our people marching on foot. Mothers with babies in their
arms. Fathers with small children on their back. Grandmothers and Grandfathers with large bundles on their backs. They were
marching West and the 'Unaka' (White Soldiers) were behind them. They left a trail of corpses the weak, the sick who could
not survive the journey." After she passed away, President Andrew Jackson supported the State of Georgia's efforts to evict
the Cherokee from their tribal lands and make it available for white settlers. The militia invaded Chota and destroyed the
printing press used by the tribe to print their newspaper. When the Native Americans were rounded-up and forced into exile,
only a few Cherokees managed to escape and find refuge in the mountains of North Carolina. In 1838,Cherokees were forced to
relocate to land west of the Mississippi river. They traveled in several large groups primarily on foot, without proper clothing
and provisions, approximately 800 miles. More than 4,000 Cherokees died as a result of President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal
Act of 1830, which now referred to as the "Nunna-da-ult-sun-yi," or the Trail of Tears.
Jump up ^The Wild Rose of Cherokee, Or Nancy Ward, "The Pocahontas of the West." University
Press, Nashville (1895)
Jump up ^James Mooney's History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees: Containing the
Full Texts of Myths of the Cherokee (1900) and The Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees (1891) as Published by the Bureau of American
^ Jump up to: abThe Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward, Biography of Nancy Ward, by David Hampton
^ Jump up to: abcStarr, Emmet. History of the Cherokee Indians and their legends and folk lore. Warden
Company, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1921
Jump up ^The Keetoowah Society and the Avocation of Religious Nationalism in the Cherokee
Nation, 1855-1867, U.S. GenNet, Inc.
Jump up ^Carl Waldman, Atlas of the North American Indian (New York: Facts on File Publications,
Standing Turkey was one of three Cherokee leaders to go with Henry Timberlake to London in 1762-1763, the others being Ostenaco and Pouting Pigeon. Standing Turkey was part of the Cherokee Bird Band, the wild Turkey of America.
In 1782, he was one of a party of Cherokee which joined the Delaware, Shawnee, and Chickasaw
in a diplomatic visit to the Spanish at Fort St. Louis in seeking a new
avenue of obtaining arms and other assistance in the prosecution of
their ongoing conflict with the Americans in the Ohio Valley. The group
of Cherokee sought and received permission by Standing Turkey to settle
in Spanish Louisiana, in the region of the White River.
Tanner, Helen Hornbeck; Cherokees in the Ohio Country - A Journal of
Cherokee Studies, Vol. III, No. 2, pp. 95–103; Cherokee: Museum of the Cherokee Indian, 1978; p. 99.
Brown, John P. Old Frontiers: The Story of the Cherokee Indians from Earliest Times to the Date of Their Removal to
the West, 1838. (Kingsport: Southern Publishers, 1938).
Tsiyu Gansini (ᏥᏳ ᎦᏅᏏᏂ),
"He is dragging his canoe", known to whites as Dragging Canoe (often misspelled Dragon Canoe in records; lived
from c. 1738 until 29 February 1792) was a Cherokeewar chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers in the Upper South.
He was the son of Attakullakulla ("Little Carpenter"), who was born to the Nipissing. When he and his mother were captured when he was an infant, he was adopted into the Cherokee tribe and assimilated. His
mother was Nionne Ollie ("Tamed Doe), born to the Natchez and adopted as a captive by Oconostota's household.
They lived with the Overhill Cherokee on the Little Tennessee River. Dragging Canoe survived smallpox at a young age, which left his face marked. According to Cherokee legend, his name is derived from an incident in his early
childhood. He tried to prove his readiness for war by carrying a canoe, but could only drag it.
Dragging Canoe first took part in battle during the Anglo-Cherokee War (1759–1761). In its aftermath, he was recognized as one of the strongest opponents to encroachment by settlers from
the British colonies onto American Indian, especially Cherokee, land. Eventually he became the chief of Great Island Town (Amoyeli Egwa in Cherokee, written Mialaquo by the British) on the Little Tennessee River.
When the Cherokee
chose to ally with the British in the American Revolution, Dragging Canoe was at the head of one of the major attacks. After the colonial militias' destruction of the Cherokee Middle
(Hill), Valley, and Lower Towns, his father and Oconostota wanted to sue for peace. Refusing to give up, Dragging Canoe led a band of the Overhill Cherokee out of the towns.
migrated to the area surrounding Chickamauga River (South Chickamauga Creek) in the present-day Chattanooga area of eastern Tennessee, where they established 11 towns in 1777, including the one later referred to as "Old Chickamauga
Town." It was across the river from where John McDonald had a trading post. Frontiersman called them the Chickamauga because of their settlement by the river. They were later referred to as the Lower Cherokee.
In 1782 their towns were
destroyed again by United States forces. The band moved further down the Tennessee River, establishing the "Five Lower Towns" below the obstructions of the Tennessee River Gorge: Running Water (now Whiteside), Nickajack (near the cave of the same name), Long Island (on the Tennessee River), Crow Town
(at the mouth of Crow Creek), and Lookout Mountain Town (at the site of the current Trenton, Georgia). From his base at Running Water, Dragging Canoe led attacks on white settlements all over the American Southeast, especially
against the colonists on the Holston, Watauga, and Nolichucky rivers in East Tennessee. After 1780, he also attacked the Cumberland River settlements in Middle Tennessee, and raided into Kentucky and Virginia as well. His three brothers Little Owl, the Badger, and Turtle-at-Home fought with his forces.
Dragging Canoe died 29 February 1792 at Running Water town, from exhaustion or an apparent heart attack after dancing all night celebrating the recent conclusion of alliance with
the Muskogee and the Choctaw. He had not brought the Chickasaw into the alliance. The Chickamauga were also celebrating a recent victory by one of their war bands against the Cumberland River European-American settlements.
Dragging Canoe is considered by many to be the most significant
Native American leaders of the Southeast. Some historians[who?] consider him a role model for the younger Tecumseh. He was a member of a band of Shawnee living with the Chickamauga/Lower Cherokee and taking part in their wars. Dragging Canoe picked John Watts, also known as Young Tassel, as his successor as war chief.