Top Down or Bottom Up?

The Cherokee Nation is built on the matriarch premise in which women have a very significant role in every day life and family ancestry. I, Nancy Ward, “war woman” of the Cherokee people, believe in the importance of everyone’s view, especially from those who fight along side me in battle. When my first husband died, I rose up and defeated the Creek tribe in order to expand Cherokee lands and protect my two children and my people. In my own beliefs, both men and women can work hand in hand to accomplish a great deal in every day life. The British and colonist way of life is completely different specifically within a gender hierarchy.

 Although, when I was married to Bryant, who was a white trader, I came to understand the way of the colonist life and understood their struggle against the British Empire. I would warn colonists of impending dangers from war parties along the frontier paths and meet with local leaders in order to use diplomacy and dialogue in order to bring peace among our two cultures. Many of the Cherokee would disagree with me on the matter of my sympathy and close relationship with the colonists than rather to side with the British in the ongoing uprising happening up and down the Eastern seaboard.

My uncle, Little Carpenter, would agree that the ongoing expansion of colonial presence was to be dealt with talks of peace rather than resistance and war. Our people did not have the technology nor the numbers in order to fight the incoming settlers, let alone the British as well. On the other hand, Little Carpenter was not known to be as helpful as I was and was not as welcomed as a friend and ally to white colonists. My cousin, Dragging Canoe, would be most upset with my marriage to Bryant, including my daughter, and overall my kinship and allegiance to the colonials instead of his mentality of resistance and war.

I stand as a “beloved woman” and important voice within the Cherokee nation, but I have lived with the common man and woman on and off the battlefield and have listened to their stories. I would consider myself a bridge between the top and the bottom in the form of a common ground for both voices to be heard. My only hope for the future and for the sake of my children and generations still to come that my people and the colonists could resolve our differences in order to fight a common enemy and remain at peace for years to come.


PESANTUBBEE, MICHELENE E. “Nancy Ward: American Patriot or Cherokee Nationalist?” American Indian Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 2, Spring 2014, p. 177. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1353/aiq.2014.0024.

How the Seven Years War affects us going forward

The Seven Years war has left many things broken and many people dead. Our people, our great Cherokee people remain strong and vigilant. We fought alongside the British and helped resolve the war in a certain capacity. But now we must look forward. Fighting no longer will solve all our problems, now we must find ways to diplomatically settle disputes. That is why I, Little Carpenter will lead this post war era Cherokee to new heights and strengthen our people, not through war but by finding ways to solve problems orally with these settlers. My family, most importantly my son, Dragging Canoe, will find ways to adapt in this new world. I hope that my son does not remain bitter for how we have been treated and how our rewards for fighting alongside during the war may not have been fruitful.

            It is important that we do not think short term and destroy any bonds we have gained but work to build upon these gains. Though the British seem to have been treating us horribly during and after the war regardless of the help we provided, by making hasty decisions could ruin any hope for our survival. I believe that land is becoming our greatest issue. My only hope is that the British do not take any more than they need or selfishly want. I have my eyes set on going into Virginia and finding land there. I believe my people would be able to prosper as well as live alongside these new people. By finding new land to live on, to grow on, may help us reduce our conflict with not only the British and countries taking over this new land, but it may reduce our conflict with the Creek tribes. I still found it difficult to turn down their offer to take up arms against the British. But I know that was the right decision. To have less of my people die, less of my family die, the better. To find new land. Whether it be in Virginia or more south, I believe we can make it work.

Another issue I can see our family facing is how these outsiders view us as lesser people. I do not want my family growing up in a world where they are viewed as no more than trash. That is why I will continue to go to meet these officials and political heads and keep fighting for the rights of me people and family. Violence has only led to more and more hatred. I am beginning to hear rumblings that these political officials in South Carolina want to meet with me over land in the east. But if it is anything like the Virginians, this may take ages. It appears we are a lesser class to them and any issue we may have or want to discuss takes forever and is put in the back of all their minds. I just hope that they see how we have helped through the war and tribal negotiations that they may soon see us as equals and my family can grow up in peace and prosperity.

 I still think the most pressing issue here is the politics of these people as well as tribes away from us. Though I see diplomatic solutions, the Creeks and the Iroquois may be quicker to pass judgment. That judgment may even come to us. Dragging Canoe is quick to want to resort to violence, I cannot blame him however after the way we have been treated following the seven years war. Demanding diplomacy to a nearby tribe is much more difficult then these new people. But how can I tell them to peacefully figure things out when so much of their land has been taken? So much of our land has been taken! It is difficult to see this clearly, but I know that with firm policy and working on our relationships we can come to equal ground and find ways to sort this out.

It still saddens me to see our land, once so fruitful and beautiful, to still be in ruins from the British armies. They have destroyed our land twice. Though that was years ago and I must forgive them for it. I dream of the day when my family can walk peacefully on our sacred land once again and I hope that after the Seven years war, that the British see how we helped and how we have become peaceful, that will allow us more land. I believe that within the next 10 years, if we can keep our approach, we will get back to be our own people and my family will prosper.       


Introduction of Myself and My Household

Hello, Siyo,

Tsiyu Gansini, which translates to Dragging Canoe is a Native American who was alive during the time of the American Revolution. He lived with his family, Attakullakulla, Nanyehi, and Little Owl. Nanyehi, or Nancy Ward, was his younger cousin who sided with the colonists. When he wanted to attack some of the colonists from Kentucky, she warned them. When Dragging Canoe tried to attack the settlements, they were ready. They killed 13 of his 200 brave warriors that day. Then his group took revenge by burning some outlying cabins and taking 18 scalps. His brother, Little Owl was another Cherokee leader and the only one of Dragging Canoe’s housemates that agreed with his views. Attakullakulla was the chief of 1 of the 50 Cherokee villages. He captured and adopted Dragging Canoe as an infant, which was a common practice among their people. Dragging Canoe and Attakullakulla mainly disagreed about the colonists. Attakullakulla wanted peace, but Dragging Canoe believed that there could never be peace with the threat of the colonists against them.

Dragging Canoe was the head warrior of the town of Malaquo and the proud leader of the Chickamaugas. He came from the Overhill town, Tenase, on the Tennessee River. His name was gained at a young age. He wanted to fight against the Shawnee when he was a child, but his father refused. Because Dragging Canoe wanted to go to war, he hid in a canoe. The warriors found Dragging Canoe, and his father gave him permission to go if he could carry the canoe. He couldn’t pick up the canoe, so he drug it all the way there. That spirit of determination was what earned him the name Dragging Canoe. He protected his people and refused to honor the dishonest treaty that gave up his people’s land to the wretched State of Virginia. He was six feet tall with a broad, muscular build. Due to the colonists bringing sicknesses over with them, he contracted smallpox as a child. It permanently left his face pocked with holes.

Dragging Canoe’s goal was to drive the white men out of the Cherokee land. The Revolutionary War provided the perfect opportunity for him to strike at the isolated white settlements. He attacked at the battle of Island Flats and was wounded. Initially his warriors beat the colonists there, but then the colonists got reinforcements. His Chickamaugas were defeated. Dragging Canoe formed an alliance with the British to get rid of colonists during the war. He became known as The Dragon among the white men because of the terror he inspired in them. Many people considered him a military genius.

His community was made up of some Cherokee and other allied tribes who believed that the Native Americans should fight for their lands rather than wait for the white men to slaughter them all. Dragging Canoe put the community together, and they formed new towns on the Chickamauga creek in winter of 1776 and 1777. Because of their location, the white men called them the Chickamaugas. In 1782, the US and Britain formed a peace treaty, but Dragging Canoe’s forces continued to fight. He met with Choctaw, Shawnee, Creek, Chickasaw, and many other tribes to build a confederation of tribes against the encroaching threat. This group defeated the American army troops when they invaded the Chickamauga towns in ‘88.

His father was part of the council that admitted defeat and gave up their lands and prisoners. Dragging Canoe believed that this was a coward’s choice. Shouldn’t they risk everything and incur the consequences instead of lose their nation? He thought treaties were good for men too old to hunt or fight, but he had young warriors. His group wanted to hold their land. His slogan was “Retreat and fight on!”

I believe if he was asked this question, he would refuse to answer how long he had been in the colonies. Dragging Canoe would ask how long have the colonies tried to take the land away from his people. So many Native American villages had succumbed to the colonists and their vicious attempts to kill and drive the native peoples away to beyond the Mississippi. Thirty six Cherokee towns had been destroyed in North Carolina and Virginia. South Carolina put bounties on Native Americans whether they were alive or dead. Georgia burned their villages and killed their families. Dragging Canoe wanted his people to rise up and take back what is theirs. The Chickamauga tribe wanted to fight like warriors rather than die like cowards.

By Skyla Heise