Nanyehi-Beloved Woman of the Cherokee
These songs were written for a musical called NANYEHI-BELOVED WOMAN OF THE CHEROKEE, based on the life of my 5th-great grandmother, Nancy Ward. NANYEHI was born in 1738 in the Cherokee capital of Chota, in what is now eastern Tennessee. She accompanied her husband, Kingfisher, to war against the Creek Indians in the 1755 Battle of Taliwa. As she knelt by his side, chewing the bullets to make them more deadly, Kingfisher was killed. Nanyehi took his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory. She was honored first as a 'war woman' and then stood for peace...peace between the Cherokee and all others. After years of tending to the wounded, caring for orphaned children, and risking her life to make peace, she was elevated to the highest position a Cherokee woman could have, that of "Ghigau," or "Beloved Woman." She was given a shawl of white swan feathers, which remained a symbol of her authority the rest of her life. Her second husband was Bryant Ward, a trader in Cherokee country of Irish descent. She then became known as "Nancy Ward" to the American settlers. Nanyehi entered the spirit world in 1822. Witnesses say that a white light rose from her chest, swirled around the room, took the form of a swan, and flew out the window toward her beloved Chota.