A courageous leader. An empathetic caretaker. A driven taskmaster. An intelligent, resilient and love-driven organizer. A person who had no trouble telling other people what they ought to be doing, and who conversely had no trouble pouring herself out to help other people do better.
A lifelong potter, storyteller and keeper of Cherokee traditions, 97-year-old Amanda Sequoyah Swimmer was given the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ highest honor last week when Tribal Council named her a Beloved Woman.
Shirley Oswalt (pictured above, left, with sister Geraldine Thompson) was named a Beloved Woman of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on Tuesday, Feb. 2, the highest honor that can be given to a Cherokee woman and one that’s held by only two other living people.
Shirley Jackson Oswalt can still remember the first words she said in English.
Her older siblings had prepped her before she headed off to her first day of first grade at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Snowbird Day School in Robbinsville, and when the teacher came over to greet her, Oswalt knew her line.
Ella Wachacha Bird has joined the ranks of a small and revered group last week after the Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribal Council named her a “beloved woman.”