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Native American Relations


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.[citation needed]

Beloved Woman[edit]

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 [1] 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 [2] and has no other historical source. James Mooney writes "it is said her (Nancy's) father was a British officer named Ward".[3] However, according to Nanyehi's descendant John Walker "Jack" Hildebrand, her father was a member of the Delaware tribe.[4]

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.[5] Kingfisher was killed, and Nancy picked up his rifle and continued the fight leading her people to victory.

Afterwards, 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,[4] who later became the wife of General Joseph Martin.

Changes to Cherokee society[edit]

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.[5]

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.[5] 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.[6][7]

Revolutionary War[edit]

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.[8]

Later life[edit]

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.

On 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.[9]

Death, burial, and remembrance[edit]

Memorial to Nancy Ward, located near Benton, Tennessee.

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.

After 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.[10]

A statue of Nancy Ward, carved by James Abraham Walker,[11] stood in a cemetery in Grainger County, Tennessee for about 70 years before it was stolen in the early 1980s.[12]

The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, Tennessee holds an annual Nancy Ward Cherokee Heritage Days celebration in her honor.

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.

The Trail of Tears[edit]

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.[citation needed]


  1. Jump up ^ Nancy Ward, Tennessee Encyclopedia
  2. Jump up ^ The Wild Rose of Cherokee, Or Nancy Ward, "The Pocahontas of the West." University Press, Nashville (1895)
  3. 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 Ethnology
  4. ^ Jump up to: a b The Association of the Descendants of Nancy Ward, Biography of Nancy Ward, by David Hampton
  5. ^ Jump up to: a b c Starr, Emmet. History of the Cherokee Indians and their legends and folk lore. Warden Company, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1921
  6. Jump up ^ The Keetoowah Society and the Avocation of Religious Nationalism in the Cherokee Nation, 1855-1867, U.S. GenNet, Inc.
  7. Jump up ^ Carl Waldman, Atlas of the North American Indian (New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985)
  8. Jump up ^ Articles of convention made between John C Calhoun, Secretary of War, and the Cherokees as the Treaty with the Cherokee dated Feb. 27, 1819.
  9. Jump up ^ The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees, Vol. I, 1805–1813 (pp. 194–196), edited and translated by Rowena McClinton, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln,NE, 2007.
  10. Jump up ^ "History Feature: WNC’s 50 Most Influential People, Past and Present." Mountain Living in Western North Carolina. (retrieved 22 March 2011)
  11. Jump up ^ Nancy Ward of Early Tennessee, by Annie Walker Burns; description of the Nancy Ward statue, written circa 1955 by the sculptor's daughter
  12. Jump up ^ Nancy Ward Statue: update on recent events and status of historic art sculpture; by D. Ray Smith, the Oak Ridger, December 22, 2008

Further reading[edit]

  • Allen, Paula Gunn, The Sacred Hoop, Beacon Press, 1992.
  • American Indian Women: A Research Guide, edited by Gretchen Bataille and Kathleen Sands, Garland Publishing, 1991.
  • Green, Rayna, Women in American Indian Society, Chelsea House, 1992.
  • Native American Women, edited by Gretchen M. Bataille, Garland Publishing, 1993.
  • Dockstader, Frederick J., ed., Great North American Indians: Profiles in Life and Leadership. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977
  • Felton, Harold W., Nancy Ward: Cherokee. New York: Dodd Mead, 1975
  • McClary, Ben Harris. "The Last Beloved Woman of the Cherokees." Tennessee Historical Society Quarterly 21 (1962): 352–64.
  • Tucker, Norma. "Nancy Ward, Ghighau of the Cherokees." Georgia Historical Quarterly 53 (June 1969): 192–200
  • Woodward, Grace Steele. The Cherokees. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963

External links[edit]

Standing Turkey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cunne Shote, Cherokee Chief, by Francis Parsons (English), 1762, oil on canvas, Gilcrease Museum

Standing Turkey, also known as Cunne Shote (or Kunagadoga) succeeded his uncle, Kanagatucko (or Old Hop), as First Beloved Man of the Cherokee upon the latter's death in 1760. Pro-French like his uncle, he steered the Cherokee into war with the British colonies of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia in the aftermath of the execution of several Cherokee leaders who were being held hostage at Fort Prince George. He held his title until the end of the Anglo-Cherokee War in 1761, when he was deposed in favor of Attakullakulla.

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.[citation needed]

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.[1]


  1. 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).


Dragging Canoe

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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 Cherokee war chief who led a band of Cherokee against colonists and United States settlers in the Upper South.

Beginning during the American Revolution, his forces were sometimes joined by Upper Muskogee, Chickasaw, Shawnee, and Indians from other tribes/nations, along with British Loyalists, French and Spanish agents. The series of conflicts, lasting for a decade after the American Revolutionary War, were known as Chickamauga Wars. Dragging Canoe became the pre-eminent war leader among the Indians of the Southeast of his time. He served as principal chief of the Lower Cherokee from 1777 until his death in 1792, when he was succeeded by his pick, John Watts.


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.[1]

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.

War chief of the Cherokee[edit]

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.

They 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[2] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

  • Brent Yanusdi Cox, Heart of the Eagle: Dragging Canoe & the Emergence of the Chickamauga Confederacy, 1999
  • Robert J. Conley's novel, Cherokee Dragon (Real People series), 2000


  1. Jump up ^ Klink and Talman, The Journal of Major John Norton, p. 42
  2. Jump up ^ Rolater, Fred S. "The Chickamaugas". Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture. Retrieved 6 March 2013. 
  • Alderman, Pat. Dragging Canoe: Cherokee-Chickamauga War Chief, (Johnson City: Overmountain Press, 1978)
  • 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).
  • Evans, E. Raymond. "Notable Persons in Cherokee History: Dragging Canoe," Journal of Cherokee Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 176–189. Cherokee: Museum of the Cherokee Indian,
  • Haywood, W.H. The Civil and Political History of the State of Tennessee from its Earliest Settlement up to the Year 1796, (Nashville: Methodist Episcopal Publishing House, 1891).
  • Klink, Karl, and James Talman, ed. The Journal of Major John Norton, (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1970).
  • McLoughlin, William G., Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).
  • Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee. (Nashville: Charles and Randy Elder-Booksellers, 1982).
  • Moore, John Trotwood and Austin P. Foster. Tennessee, The Volunteer State, 1769–1923, Vol. 1. (Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1923).
  • Ramsey, J. G. M., The Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century, 1853 (2007 Online Edition). (Rockwood, TN: RoaneTNHistory.org, 2007).