Revered Cherokee Elder, Maggie Axe Wachacha

Maggie Axe Wachacha

On February 3, 1993,Maggie Axe Wachacha, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, died at age 101 in Murphy.

Born in 1894 in Snowbird Gap in Graham County, Wachacha learned to write the Cherokee language as a 7 year-old and, by the time she was 10 was beginning to master midwifery and healing skills her mother and grandmother had already mastered.

In 1935, at age 41, Maggie Axe married Jarrett Wachacha, a great nephew of Cherokee leader, Junaluska. For more than 40 years she served as the clerk of the Cherokee Tribal Council, while also acting as a midwife and healer. The Wachachas had to walk more than 50 miles from their home to town for each meeting of the council.

In 1986, Wachacha was named one of 100 American Heroes by Newsweek and received Distinguished Women of North Carolina Award. She was given the revered Cherokee title of Beloved Woman in 1978.

Throughout her life, Wachacha was an indefatigable teacher and promoter of the Cherokee culture, and she still known for her efforts to preserve and teach the Cherokee language and for her extensive knowledge of traditional foods and plants.

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