By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The Beloved Women Committee was established by Tribal Council in April 2018 to develop guidelines and procedures for the selection of Beloved Men and Women among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Vice Chairman David Wolfe submitted two resolutions making small changes to the make-up of the Committee.
Res. No. 131 (2020) changes the Committee make-up to read “one member appointed by Tribal Council” instead of the old language reading “one member elected from within Tribal Council”.
Res. No. 132 (2020) was a piggy-back to No. 131 and states, “Tribal Council is satisfied with their current representative on the Beloved Women Committee.” That representative is former Painttown Rep. Lisa Taylor who will remain on the Committee.
“Last session, Lisa Taylor was the Council representative that was on this Committee,” said Vice Chairman Wolfe when discussing the legislation. “They asked if she could remain on there. She’s a good participant, shows up, and is really involved in the Committee.”
Taylor is joined on the Committee by Kim Smith, appointment from the Office of the Principal Chief; Peggy Hill, appointment from the North American Indian Women’s Association (NAIWA) Cherokee Chapter; and two community members-at-large selected from the remainder of the Committee including – Lu Jackson and Matt Tooni.
“We’ve established what the definition of a Beloved is and we’ve really defined what the qualifications are for a future Beloved person,” said Smith who serves as chairperson. “What we’re finalizing right now is the application packet so that we can have a work session with Council so that they can go through that and make sure it looks good.”
She said their goal is to hit that mark by next month. “We want to be on track to have a nomination to the Council by September’s Council session so that with the new fiscal year and Fall Festival, we can have our Beloved People in place.”
In modern times, several EBCI elders have been bestowed the Beloved title including (date of honor): Lula Owl Gloyne (1984), Maggie Axe Wachacha (1985), Louise Bigmeat Maney (posthumously in 2001), Myrtle Driver Johnson (2012), Jerry Wolfe (2013), Ella Wachacha Bird (2013), Shirley Oswalt (2017), Amanda Swimmer (2018), Lt. Col. Kina Swayney (2018), and former Principal Chief Robert S. Youngdeer (2018). Johnson and Bird are the only living Beloved people at this time.
Information from the Committee states, “It has been a tradition among the Cherokee people to give special recognition to Cherokee women, and on occasion men, who have made special and unique contributions to Cherokee people. Such outstanding persons have been recognized as Beloved Woman or Beloved Man of the Cherokee people. In Henry Timberlake’s memoirs in 1765, he stated, ‘Old warriors likewise, or war-women, who can no longer go to war, but have distinguished themselves in their younger days, have the title of Beloved’.”
In the same Tribal Council session that the Beloved Women Committee was established on April 5, 2018, legislation (Res. No. 179 – 2018) was passed that would establish a lobby wall in the Tribal Council House to honor all EBCI Beloved People.
That legislation was passed unanimously, and in discussion on that resolution, Becky Walker, an EBCI tribal member from the Birdtown Community, suggested having a biography included with each person’s display. “Even though we know that Jerry (Wolfe) announced at the stickball games, that wasn’t why he was given that title. It was for the work that he had done in the community. It was his real contributions to the people. So, I think the truest way to honor them is to tell their story…it’s their legacy, and their legacy is how they impacted the lives of other people.”
As of press time, the Beloved People Wall of Honor has yet to be carried out.