A few miles from our campsite, Hiwasee Ocoee National Park, I kept passing a small sign that said ” Nancy Ward Grave” and assumed it was a local woman in the small town of Benton, Tennessee.  But I got curious enough, googled it, and got a surprise.  I took a trip to her grave on Highway 411, near Benton, Tennessee.

“Nanye’hi”  (as she was known) means “one who is with the spirit of the people.”  She was the Princess & Prophetess of the Cherokee Nation. 

Nancy Ward is not only remembered as an important figure to the Cherokee people but is also considered an early pioneer for women in American politics as she advocated for a woman’s voice during a turbulent period in her tribe’s history.

On the day she died in 1822, witnesses saw a white light rise from her body.  It took the form of a wolf and then a swan. It fluttered about and then flew off in the direction of her beloved town of Chota. She was the last woman to receive the title of Beloved Woman until the late 20th century.

Nancy Ward’s grave. Someone left an apple in the last few days.
Prayer flag type things fluttering around her grave.
After seeing the apple someone left at her grave, I wanted to also leave something, so I build a small cairn.
Flowers groeing near her grave.

For her burial site, rocks were removed to make a cavity  and lined with skins.   The corpse was placed with weapons, ornaments, etc. and then covered with saplings and many rocks to make a cairn.

I was glad I got curious so that I could learn about this Beloved Woman (1738-1822), who is an inspiration to me.


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