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Eliza Missouri Bushyhead Alberty (1939-1919) was a Cherokee educator and businesswoman, was the seventh child of Rev. Jesse Bushyhead (also called Unaduti), a Cherokee and Baptist minster, and Eliza Wilkinson, of mixed white and Cherokee blood. Her father established a Baptist mission, originally known as “Bread Town” because of the rations given to the immigrants who passed through it, near present-day Westville, Arkansas. Alberty attended school at the Baptist mission until 1854, when she enrolled in the Cherokee Female Seminary at Park Hill, Cherokee Nation, where she graduated in 1856. She then taught at the Post Oak Grove and Vann’s Valley schools (two of the Cherokee Nation’s public schools) until 1859. In 1858 she married David Rowe Vann, a mixed-blood Cherokee. Three years after his death in 1870, she married Bluford West Alberty, also a mixed-blood.

Soon after their marriage, the Albertys were appointed stewards of the Cherokee Insane Asylum (they named their homestead “Belleview”). In 1885 they purchased a hotel in Tahlequah–the capital of the Cherokee Nation–and named it “National Hotel.” After her husband’s death in 1889, Alberty managed the hotel, making it one of the most successful hotels in Indian Territory. Eliza Alberty was active in the Baptist church and because of the seminarians’ affection for her was also known as “Aunt Eliza.” Her brother, Dennis Wolfe Bushyhead, served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1879-1888.

–Devon A. Mihesuah

References

Foreman, Carolyn Thomas. “Aunt Eliza of Tahlequah.” Chronicle of Oklahoma 9 (March 1931): 43-55.

Miner, H. Craig. “Dennis Bushyhead.” In America Indian Leaders: A Study in Diversity, edited by R. David Edmunds, 192-205. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1980.

West, Clarence William. Tahlequah and the Cherokee Nation: 1841-1941. Muskogee, OK: Muskogee Publishing, 1978.

*Directly taken from Native American Women: A biographical dictionary edited by Gretchen M. Bataille. Garland Publishing New York and London, 1993. P. 4.

 

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