snej @ versace s/s 2008
HAVE SOME FUCKING EYE CANDY
Nonhelema (circa 1720 – 1786)
Art by Marilyn Scott-Waters (website)
Nonhelema was a Shawnee leader who rose to prominence between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Like her brother Cornstalk, Nonhelema was an advocate for peace. She was involved in the 1774 peace negotiations between the Shawnee and the Virginia settlers. It is likely Nonhelema was involved in other negotiations with the settlers but her actions went unrecorded as British and colonial records tend to downplay the involvement of Native American women in diplomacy.
Nonhelema is said to have stood nearly 6’6” and some called her “The Grenadier” or “The Grenadier Squaw,” a reference to the height of 18th century grenadiers. She married three times. First to an unknown Shawnee man, then to Continental Army soldier Richard Butler, and finally to Shawnee Chief Moluntha.
In 1777, Nonhelema moved to Fort Randolph in western Virginia where she worked as an interpreter and peace negotiator. On multiple occasions, she warned white settlers of impending attacks from hostile Native Americans. Patrick Henry had such faith in her diplomatic ability that he urged her to visit other tribes and encourage leaders to attend peace talks.
Cornstalk, his son, and two other Shawnee men were killed at Fort Randolph in 1777 as retribution for the murder of an American militiaman by unidentified Native Americans. Patrick Henry insisted that Cornstalk’s killers be brought to justice, but as none of the American soldiers would testify against them, they were acquitted. Despite the murder of her brother and nephew, Nonhelema remained a supporter of peace with the settlers and continued her work as an interpreter and negotiator.
After the American Revolution, Nonhelema moved to a Shawnee community in western Pennsylvania. In 1785, she petitioned Congress for a 1,000-acre grant in Ohio as compensation for her work during the American Revolution and for livestock lost during the war. Congress instead granted her a pension of daily rations and an annual allotment of clothing.
In 1786, Moluntha, a long standing supporter of peace, was accused of attacking a white settlement and executed. Nonhelema and their children were arrested. During her imprisonment, Nonhelema complied a Shawnee/English dictionary. Nonhelema died in December 1786, either soon after her release or while she was still detained.