When looking back in history for a strong woman who made an impact in our area, look no further than Nancy Ward. She was a noteworthy woman who is buried in Polk County, Tennessee just outside of Cleveland.  She was born in 1738 in Chota, a Cherokee town, which is in present day Monroe County, Tennessee.  Ward was part of the Wolf Clan which represented war and protectors of the people. The clan is the largest and most prominent clan of the Cherokee.

Not only was Ward a significant figure for the Cherokee people,  she was an important advocate in American politics. One of her goals was to press for justice and peace for her people and also for the rights of women. Ward was the only voting woman on the Cherokee General Council which was something that was very rare in the late 1700’s.

I recently visited the Nancy Ward Gravesite with my family, and it brought back many good memories of a visit to the site that I had made when I was in the 4th grade. I remember participating in a class play where I played the part of Nancy Ward. At 9 years of age, I was not fully aware of the difficulties people faced in the 1700’s, including how rare it was for women to serve in leadership roles or to have a role in politics. I appreciate her pioneering work not just for women, but for her community as a whole.  She thought of the bigger picture, had courage, and demonstrated perseverance.  She is an example to all people of how one person can make a difference.

After living a strong 84 years, Ward died in Polk County, Tennessee in 1822. She is buried next to her son, Fivekiller, and her brother, Longfellow.

These pictures show some of the monuments and signs that are located at the burial site. They depict many facts and stories about Ward’s life and the ones closest to her. There is also a bench that is dedicated to Ward by her family placed at the site many years after her death.

I would highly recommend visiting this site where Nancy Ward is buried. It is in a beautiful location and will bring to life the heroic journey that Ward was a part of 200 years ago here in our own backyard.  Remember to search out other beautiful sites in this area.