Nanyehi – Beloved Woman – Nancy Ward

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Watch the following video to see the painting come to life.

John Guthrie


Original is 30″ x 40″ oil on canvas. for more info and prints
Nanyehi was born in the Cherokee capital, Chota (Cherokee: “City of Refuge”), in what is today known as Monroe County, Tennessee. Her mother, the sister of Attakullakulla, was a member of the Wolf Clan. Though her mother is often referred to as “Tame Doe”, which is the name given on the Dawes roll for ancestry, the name could be from a fictional story by E. Sterling King and has no other historical source. According to Nanyehi’s descendant John Walker “Jack” Hildebrand, her father was “Fivekiller”, a member of the Delaware tribe. In her teens, Nanyehi married “Tsu-la” (Cherokee: Kingfisher), who, according to Emmet Starr, was a member of the Deer Clan. By age 17, Nanyehi and Tsu-la had two children, Catherine Ka-Ti Walker and Littlefellow Hiskyteehee Fivekiller. Starr also writes that in the Battle of Taliwa against the Creeks, Nancy lay behind a log and chewed Tsu-la’s bullets so that the jagged edges would inflict more damage. When Tsu-la was killed, Nancy picked up her husband’s rifle and led the Cherokees to victory. After the battle, she was awarded the title of “Ghigau” (Cherokee: Beloved Woman), deeming her the only female voting member of the Cherokee General Council. She was also named the leader of the Women’s Council of Clan Representatives, which allowed her to become an ambassador and negotiator for her people. In the late 1750s, Nanyehi remarried to English trader Bryant Ward, with whom she had a daughter, Elizabeth Betsy Ward (who would later marry General Joseph Martin). Bryant Ward eventually returned to South Carolina to live with his first wife, a woman of European descent to whom he was still married when he married Nanyehi.