Nanye-hi (Nancy Ward): Beloved Woman of the Cherokee
So often when we think of the great Native American heroes of the past, we think of the brave male warriors and chiefs who led their people through war and the long journey into an uncertain future. Here, we honor the Native American women who soldiered alongside them.
In the annals of Native American history, there have been some formidable women who fought fearlessly in battle, served as committed leaders, undertook dangerous journeys and saved lives. Here are five of the most powerful and influential Native American women of all time:
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).
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