NANCY WARD - Beloved Cherokee Woman
Nancy ward was born in 1738 in Chota which was the Capitol of the Cherokee Nation at the time. Her Native American name was Nanye-hi. She was the daughter of Tame Doe and a brave or chief of the Delaware Tribe.
Her first husband was the Cherokee man Kingfisher. Nanye-hi and Kingfisher fought side by side at the Battle of Taliwa against the Creeks in 1755. When he was killed, she took up his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory. This was the action which, at the age of 18, gave her the title of Ghigau which means Beloved Woman of the Cherokees.
Ghigau or Beloved Woman of the Cherokees was a very important title. It was believed that the Supreme Beings often spoke to the people through the beloved women, and they were given absolute power in the question of what to do with prisoners taken in war, a power exclusive to Ghi Ga U. Nancy did not hesitate to use the power. She was also head of the influential woman's council that consisted of a representative from each clan, and she sat as a voting member of the council of chiefs.
In the late 1750s (about 1759), Nancy married an already married British man named Bryant Ward. Bryant was a fur trader. About a year after the marriage, Bryant went back to his first wife in South Carolina.
During the Revolution War Nancy used her position as Ghigau to save many American prisoners that were going to be killed by Native Americans.
Nancy Ward died in 1822, a truly remarkable woman who learned a permanent place of honor in Cherokee and white history
According to her son, Fivekiller, Nancy was buried in her home town of Chota. In 1923 the Nancy Ward chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Chattanooga, placed a memorial marker next to Fivekiller's grave in 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.
Ward was the last woman to receive the title of Beloved Woman until the late 20th century.
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 1980's.