Principal Chief - Spirit Shadow
Spirit Shadow was elected Principal Chief of the Free Cherokee in summer of 2010. She joined the Free Cherokees in 1996 as a member of another clan in the area, and later started the Three Spirit Clan - representing the animal spirits of the Eagle, Wolf and Buffalo.
She was born in 1946 in Vinton County, Ohio - a very rural area in southeast Ohio. The area was once home to the ancient Mound-builders, and tribes that traveled the tributaries of the Ohio. The county consists of a lot of state forests, and is relatively undeveloped - much like it was hundreds of years ago.
In Vinton County, people live close to the land and to Nature with a rich tradition of hunting and gathering. Many have Native American ancestry, and were taught how to subsist or survive in wilderness conditions.
Spirit Shadow’s ancestry is Cherokee and Eastern Siouan (Saponi-Tutelo-Occaneechi) mixed with Dutch and Irish. Her great grand-mother was full-blooded. Her people are originally from Hancock County Tennessee, and migrated north into the tri-state area of Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.
They crossed the river into the hill country of southeast Ohio at Gallipolis and settled in the foothills of the Appalachians. Part of her family also migrated from Pennsylvania and the East Coast where the Eastern Siouan and Cherokee had originated. For Cherokee rolls, they took on last names such as Newman, North, South, East and West in recognition of the Four Directions.
When she was a girl, Native American ancestry was not discussed much. For decades, that part of her family background was hidden away. But she learned much from her father, and others in the family, who passed on very important information and values that came from her Native American heritage.
After she had raised a family, she began to explore her Native American ancestry, and learned the ways of both the Plains and Woodland tribes. In the 1990s, she became active in Native American ceremonies and later became an elder and clan chief.
She brings a lot of experience and a true caring for her people and for those, like her, who have found renewed life in Native American spirituality and culture. She approaches her work as Principal Chief in the spirit of giving, and being of service to others.