Local history: Nancy Ward and Chief Dragging Canoe

Family relationships can be complicated, and the tumultuous relationship between Chief Dragging Canoe and Nancy Ward, or Nanyehi, bear witness. Connected by blood and passion for their people, the two cousins grew up in the capital town of Chota, near present-day Monroe County, Tenn. Guided by Chief Attakullakulla, they each took opposite approaches to the encroaching pioneers. In the years after the 1760 Cherokee attack on Fort Loudon and the brutal retaliation by British forces, tensions continued to rise. The cousins emerged as leaders in the Cherokee Nation with widely different approaches to the white colonists and treaties.

Both earned distinction as warriors. Chief Dragging Canoe was born in 1732, the son of Chief Attakullakulla. As a child, he sneaked into a warrior party, stubbornly portaged a canoe to remain with the party, and earned a name that would become legendary.