Ambassadresses of Peace and Change
Among the Native Americans there are several Ambassadresses of peace and change.
Pocahontas (Me’toa’ka) 1597-1617 of the Powhattan people
rescued, protected and helped the struggling English colonist
Nancy Ward (Nan-yeh-i) 1738-1822 of the Cherokee people.
rescued and protected whites, brought milk, butter, cheese,
spinning, weaving and animal husbandry to her people.
Sacajawea (Tsi-ki-ka-wi-as) 1790-1884 of the Shoshoni people
was the primary provider of edible wild foods and heroine of the
Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Sarah Winnemucca (Thoc-me-tony) 1884-1920 of the Paiute people
fought for human rights and efforts of peace between the Native American
Each of these Ambassadresses stories are fascinating, heroic and encouraging to us in our fast-paced, ever changing world.
Most of us have heard the stories of Pocahontas and Sacajawea thanks to history lessons in school and Disney. Although, it is the story of Nanyehi (Nan-yay-hee) or Nancy Ward in which I would like to make you more aware. Recently, I had the opportunity to enjoy a musical called “Nanyehi” which told the story of this brave and resourceful Beloved Woman of the Cherokee.
Nanyehi - Daughter
Nanyehi is also known as Wild Rose, Nancy Ward and Granny Ward, each representing different times of her life. She holds the titles of Beloved Woman, War Woman (Agi-ga-u-e), Ghigau (Ghi-ga-u), negotiator and Ambassador.
Nanyehi was born sometime in 1738 in Chota (city of refuge) Monroe County, Tennessee. Her name means “one who goes about.” She was born to Skayagustuegwo, Fivekiller, the Raven of the Delaware-Lenni Lenap warrior and Tame Doe of the Cherokee Wolf clan. In her childhood The Nunnehi told her she would be a part of two worlds.
1751 she married Red Fox Chutlow Kingfisher (Tsu-la) of the Cherokee Deer clan who was a noted war leader.
1752 a daughter is born to them that they name Ka-Ti.
1755 She gave birth to their son Fivekiller, Littlefellow (Hi-s-ki-ti-hi).
Battle of Tail'wa - Nanyehi (War Woman)
In the same year as the birth of her son, 1755, the Battle of Tail’wa took place between the Muskogee/Creek and the Cherokee. Nanyehi and Kingfisher were a part of that battle. Nanyehi chewed the bullets for her husband to make them jagged giving them edges where they would do more damage. Kingfisher was mortally wounded. She immediately picked up his rifle and continued shooting leading her people to victory. For this heroic act she was awarded the title of Ghigau at the age of eighteen. This title made her responsible for the fate of the people captured.
- 1756 Nanyehi married an Irish Trader by the name of Bryant Ward.
1757 a daughter is born to Nanyehi and Bryant Ward they name her Elizabeth.
Using the power invested to her as a Ghigau she frees a white woman named Mrs. Lydia Russell Bean which changes Nanyehi’s world. She keeps Lydia with her until she is well enough to travel to her settlement. While she is healing Lydia sees the plight of the Cherokee people. Lydia returns to her settlement and eventually returns to Nanyehi’s camp with cows. She teaches Nanyehi how to spin and weave, make butter and cheese, milk cows and raise animals.
Nanyehi in turn teaches these trades to her people bring prosperity to the clan. She is described as queenly and commanding by those who met her during this time in her life. She becomes the leader of the Women’s Council as Ambassador and negotiator for her people. When the French and Indian War (1754-1763) began she warned the Whites several times of impending danger from her people and the French.
1760 With the French and Indian War (1754-1763) raging Bryant Ward returns to South Carolina to his English wife. When the War is over Bryant shares his time between his two wives with each having knowledge of the other. In 1815 Bryant dies.
In the years after the war Nanyehi returns to the place of her birth and opens an Inn at Womankiller ford, on the Ocoee River, at Highway 411 N., Benton, Tennessee. Where she adopts two more children.
1775-William S. Taylor
With her son Fivekiller she runs the Inn until her death on March 30, 1822.
These brave Ambassadresses helped to improve the world in which they lived and presented a way to peace for the future.
The Musical “Nanyehi” was co-written by Becky Hobbs and Nick Sweet.
Becky Hobbs is the fifth great granddaughter of Nanyehi. She is a renowned song writer with hits such as “Jones on the Jukebox,” “Honky Tonk Saturday Night,” and “Let’s Get Over Them Together.” Her husband, Duane Sciacqua, accompanied her on guitar. He has been feature on numerous soundtracks. Nick Sweet is a freelance stage director who has directed over 135 productions in Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska and Georgia.
This musical is three hours long, but it is so enthralling that it seems a short time. This musical is well worth the effort to see and hear.