Why was Nanye’hi known as a Beloved Woman by the Cherokee?

In 1755, during a war between the Cherokee and Creek, a woman named Nanye’hi followed her husband into battle to provide him with ammunition and encouragement.

During the battle, her husband was shot. Without a moment’s thought, Nanye’hi reached over his body, snatched his weapon, and took his place in the fight as she sang out a Cherokee war song to inspire her fellow warriors.

Because of her courage, the Cherokee honored Nanye’hi with the title Beloved Woman. As a Beloved Woman, Nanye’hi was able to go to meetings of the Cherokee Council, which was usually only attended by men. She was also given the vital duty of preparing Black Drink, the power-giving tea that men drank during ceremonies. Several years after the death of her Cherokee husband, Nanye’hi married an Irish trader named Brian Ward.

Trusted by both Cherokees and whites (who knew her as Nancy Ward), she became a celebrated peacemaker between the two groups. Today, Cherokees still honor Nancy Ward as a Beloved Woman who provided their people with sound and sane counsel.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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