Vacation 2014: Cherokee Connection
|Wilma Mankiller when she was Chief|
My government card, issued by the Department of the Interior, states that I am 1/256 Cherokee. That is what family members have proven. It is said I have native ancestry on my father's side, also. I have Cherokee and Scots-Irish roots in Tennessee. Both of my parents were born and raised in northeastern Oklahoma and Cherokee history was of great interest to my mother. She would talk about how interesting it was to learn about all the tribes in Oklahoma history class. As soon as my Aunt Betty had done genealogical research, my mother applied for our Indian cards. She also joined the tribe. Wilma Mankiller, pictured above was Chief at that time.
Our Cherokee ancestor, and my ___th grandmother is Nanyehi, or Nancy Ward. She was a Beloved Woman of the Cherokee; she was able to sit on councils with the Chief and was credited with sparing the lives of several people with just her word.
While in North Carolina, we visited the Cherokee Eastern Band reservation where we toured the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. It is a very good museum. The children were engaged by the displays and it was just the right size for a family tour. As we left Gatlinburg, we travelled back through Benton, Tennessee so we could visit Nancy Ward's gravesite and state park. It is a beautiful hilltop resting place for this amazing woman. My mother would have loved our entire trip, but especially these stops. I wanted to make sure we visited Nancy Ward's grave because Mama always wanted to visit. I guess this means we did visit a gravesite on this trip.
There are groups of Ward's descendants who meet regularly. Back in the 1990s, Mama was watching an interview on the old Nashville Network (I think it was called). The person being interviewed was Becky Hobbs, a singer/songwriter. She mentioned her Cherokee ancestry and her five-times great grandmother, Nancy Ward. Mama sent her a letter and Hobbs responded, glad to have found another cousin.
On our last day in Tennessee, we visited Nancy Ward's gravesite and park near Benton, Tennessee.
|Marker at entrance to Nancy Ward Gravesite and Park|
|Parking area and path leading to gravesite|
|Beautiful views from the hilltop|