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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Nancy Ward

b. 1738, Chota (Monroe County), Tennessee; d. 1822, Woman Killer Ford, Tennessee

Nancy Ward was born to a sister of a Cherokee chief and an English father and learned both the Cherokee and English languages from her mother. Among the Cherokee she bore the distinguished title of “Beloved Woman,” which gave Ward a public voice and a vote in the tribal council of chiefs after she demonstrated her merits as a warrior during a conflict between the Cherokee and Creek in 1775. She played a significant role in keeping the peace among the tribes as well as with white settlers, for example, by warning American soldiers during the Revolutionary War (1775–83) of an impending Cherokee attack in 1780 with the hope that her village would be spared. She assisted in the negotiation of a peace treaty between the Cherokee and Americans in 1781, and the Treaty of Hopewell in 1785, when she promoted peaceful coexistence. She promoted the adoption of farming and dairy production among the Cherokee, and in later years urged her tribe not to sell their land to the Americans.