Audrey Flack’s monumental and heroic Beloved Woman of Justice was created for the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse in Knoxville. Beloved Woman of Justice invited the viewer to contemplate and reflect on the meaning of the law and our judicial system. In the words of the artist, “It will encourage looking into the inner self…for truth.” The feathers hidden in the folds of the Greek drapery refer to Knoxville’s early trade with Native Americans. The star and eagle in the headdress are symbolic of the United States and the ideas of justice, righteousness, and integrity. The expression of the face is meditative, pensive and thoughtful, and is meant to inspire feelings of solace and reassurance. The facial features of the sculpture are meant to appeal to broad and diverse groups of people and represent the impartiality of the Courts.
Ghigau (Cherokee: ᎩᎦᎤ) or Agigaue (Cherokee:ᎠᎩᎦᎤᎡ) is a Cherokee prestigious title meaning "beloved woman" or "war woman".
The title was a recognition of great honor for women who made a significant impact within their community or exhibited great heroism on the battlefield. When a woman was bestowed as a Ghigau she was given great honor and responsibility. The role has changed in Cherokee culture, but the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians still have Beloved Women today.
The Ghigau title was given to extraordinary women by the Cherokee clans, and the title of great honor and responsibility was held for life. The Cherokees believed that the Great Spirit frequently spoke through the Ghigau. The Ghigau headed the Council of Women and held a voting seat in the Council of Chiefs. She was given the responsibility of prisoners and would decide their fate.
Nancy Ward, whose Cherokee name was Nanyehi, was a notable Ghigau who was born in the Cherokee town of Chota. She was thought to be the daughter of a Cherokee woman named Tame Doe, of the Wolf Clan. Tame Doe's brother was Attakullakulla. In 1755, the Cherokee fought against the Muscogee Creeks. During the battle, Nanyehi's first husband, Kingfisher, was killed. She was just 18 at the time, and victoriously led and fought in the battle against the Creeks. Her bravery and leadership resulted in her being bestowed with the title of Ghigau. Nanyehi became aware of a planned attack against the white colonists during the Revolutionary War by Dragging Canoe, her cousin. She warned the colonists of the upcoming battle, which resulted in her being identified as a patriot for the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
The following is from an article by Knoxville History Project: “Beloved Woman” was a title given to Cherokee women who had major influence in their tribes. The most famous, at least to the white man, was one who likely visited Knoxville more than once in her life. She was named Nany'hi, and we knew her as Nancy Ward. When she went to battle with her husband Kingfisher against the Creeks, she was just 17. When her husband fell dead, Nany'hi took up her husband's musket. She was honored for her bravery with the title Ghigau, or Beloved Woman, the highest title available to Cherokee women. The teenaged widow married Bryan Ward, an Irish trader, but he left her and married a white woman. Nancy's cousin was Dragging Canoe, the most warlike of the Cherokee during the early white settlement of the Tennessee country. When she learned he planned an attack on the whites along the Holston, she secretly warned them. When the attack came, they were gone; the battle resulted in fewer than 20 deaths on each side. She may have seemed like a traitor, but her intention was apparently to save lives. Nany’hi died in 1822 but will forever be remembered as a Beloved Woman.