NANYE-HI (NANCY WARD)

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From Biography.com

By Sara Kettler

Nanye-hi (Nancy Ward): Beloved Woman of the Cherokee

Nanye-hi was born into the Cherokee Wolf clan circa 1738. In 1755, she stood by her husband during a fight against the Creeks, chewing the lead for bullets in order to provide his ammunition with deadly ridges. When her husband was fatally shot, Nanye-hi grabbed a rifle, rallied her fellow fighters and entered the battle herself. With her on their side, the Cherokee won the day.

These actions led to Nanye-hi being named Ghighau (Beloved Woman) of the Cherokee, a powerful position whose duties included leading the Women’s Council and sitting on the Council of Chiefs. Nanye-hi also took part in treaty talks (to the surprise of male colonists when they were on the other side of the bargaining table).

As the years progressed, some Cherokee wanted to fight the Europeans who continued to crowd into their land. But Nanye-hi, who likely realized the Cherokee couldn’t win against the numerous and well-supplied colonists, thought the two sides needed to learn live together (she practiced coexistence herself, marrying an Englishman, Bryant Ward, in the late 1750s, which led to her being known as Nancy Ward). At a 1781 treaty conference, Nanye-hi declared, “Our cry is all for peace; let it continue. This peace must last forever.”

Seeking peace didn’t stop Nanye-hi from recognizing the dangers of ceding Cherokee territory—in 1817, she made an unsuccessful plea not to give up more land. When she died in 1822, she’d spent years trying to help her people acclimate to a changing world.

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