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.

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