Nanye-Hi (Nancy Ward) - Cherokee

By Julia White

Nancy Ward was called upon to show the depth and strength of her character as a young bride while assisting her husband during a battle against the Creeks. When he was shot and killed, Nancy picked up his gun and continued the battle, rallying the Cherokee to victory. The Cherokee paid homage to Nancy and made her a Beloved Woman, a position reserved for brave and wise women who have served the people well.

As a Beloved Woman, Nancy had full voice and full vote in all tribal councils, held the power of life and death and, with the other Beloved Women of the Council, was the final arbitrator of any and all disputes and decisions affecting the Cherokee. Her first official act as a Beloved Woman was to save the life of a white woman condemned to die.

Nancy was a devout believer in peaceful co-existence with the whites. She earned the respect of both the white government and her own people by her successful negotiations and mediations. She had been educated by Moravians who had been allowed to settle in the area, and she served as interpreter when the need arose. Nancy constantly traveled the territory diverting conflict between the European settlers and her people, and was the driving force behind many peace agreements - she was a true politician.

Nancy was instrumental in negotiating the very first treaty between the white government and the Cherokee, known as the Treaty of Hopewell, and was present at its signing. During the years, Nancy watched her work being destroyed as treaty after treaty was broken, and she became increasingly suspicious of the white government.

She spoke out against the continuing sale of Cherokee lands to the white government, but her fears were not taken seriously. Nancy settled in Tennessee and operated a successful inn until her death in 1822. She did not live to see the forced removal of her tribesmen, which began in 1838.

Her marriage to the white trader - Bryan Ward - did occur, but he did not run the inn with her. He was also married to a white woman with whom he lived until his death in the early 1800s.

Nancy Ward is highly regarded by the Cherokee Nation, and many honors have been bestowed in her name. A Tennessee chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is even named for her.


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