Qualla Boundary (Eastern Band Cherokee Indian Nurses)


Learn more about the history of nursing on the Qualla Boundary. (see also Swain and Cherokee Counties).


Nurse/Hospital CEO Casey Cooper has been esential in the transformation of Cherokee Health Care in the 2000s.

  • Nurse Lula Owl Gloyne was the first Eastern Band Cherokee Registered Nurse. In the 1920s, she served her tribe and community as a US Indian Health Service nurse providing home health and midwifery services. In the 1930s Gloyne was responsible for the founding of the first hospital for the Cherokee tribe.

  • Pollitt, P.A. (2010)  Public Spirit. Minority Nurse.

  • Ernestine Walkingstick, R.N.

    • Like most registered nurses, Ernestine Walkingstick had worked in several capacities before settling into the position of the Director of Community Health Nursing for the Cherokee Indian Reservation.  She was an ideal community health nurse. She knew the reservation well – she knew the families from the babies to the elderly. She was instrumental in establishing and assisting in the clinic for the Indian population in the Robbinsville area. She also initiated, coordinated and operated the eye clinics and ENT clinics at the Cherokee Indian Hospital.  She was a “nurse” in the purest sense – dedicated to the health and welfare of “her people.  Her volunteer activities were legendary. She raised countless dollars for the Cherokee Children’s Home and was an active member of the North American Indian Women’s Association, Eastern Band of Cherokee Community Foundation, Western North Carolina Community Development and the Qualla SAFE House.
  • Article about Nurse Helen Crossley who spent a few years during the Depression of the 1930s working with the Indian Health Service on the Qualla Boundary.
  • Article about "The health of the Cherokee" in the April, 1972 Health Bulletin, pages 8-11.


  • Mrs. Virginia  Rosebud Sneed Dixon, RN  is a Knoxville General Hospital school of Nurisng graduate and member of the EBCI tribe.  One oral history with her is found on our oral history page.  She was also a guest on the Nov 10, 2006 Native American Calling radio show - here is a blurb about that show
  • Friday, November 10 - Two Generations of Native Veterans:
    Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, is an important date in many Native households. When it comes to serving the United States, many Native Americans have answered the call. And some answered the call before they were recognized as U.S. Citizens. Whatever the service era, be it World War II, Korea, Vietnam or Afghanistan, Iraq or any time between, we honor our Native brothers and sisters on Veterans Day. Many tribes have established their own veteran’s memorials and cemeteries. Who are the veterans in your family? Guests are Virginia Sneed Dixon (Eastern Band of Cherokee) Army Nurse during World War II and Korea and Marty Antone (Oneida) served tours duty in Bosnia, Kososvo and Iraq.

Mrs. Dixon in WWII


Mrs. Trudy Fann graduted from Knoxvillle General Hospital School of Nursing in 1945 and spent most of her career at the VA hospital in Johnson City, TN.


  • 1947 photographs of the baby contest at the Qualla Boundary with Mrs. Hicks the public health nurse for Swain County.
Mary Ann Lambert Luff, RN

Mary Lambert Luff, 97, of the Cherokee community entered Heaven on March 27, 2013 and a celebration began! She was a life-long resident of the Cherokee area in Swain County, NC. Mary was the daughter of the late Hugh Noland Lambert and former Rosa Lee Smith Lambert. She was also stepdaughter to the late Ava Lauren Hall Lambert and was preceded in death by her husband Mr. Eugene H. Luff of Orange County California.

Mary was schooled in Chilocco, trained as a nurse in Knoxville, TN and served two years in France as a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army Nursing Corps. Upon returning from the war, she was a nurse in the Veterans Hospital at Long Beach, California. In the early ’50′s she was a merchant with her own business in Cherokee and later built the Wikki-up Motel in Soco Valley where she worked until she elected to retire to a private life in 1983. She was also a life-long member of the American Legion, Steve Young deer Post #143 in Cherokee, NC. She was a member of the Wilmont Baptist Church and dedicated her life to the Lord.

Mary is survived by her brothers Richard, Roy and John and by her sisters Betty, Peggy and Sarah. Mary had no children but numerous nephews and nieces to tell her story.

Along with her parents and husband Mary was preceded in death by her eight brothers, Herbert, Jarrett, Paul, Arthur, Albert, Hugh, Jr., Jesse and Frederic and one sister, Virginia Lambert Sweet.

Mary’s home was always open to her siblings and their families acting as a touchpoint from them as they maintained contact with Cherokee and their Cherokee people. Mary was a caregiver and a woman who “told it like is”. May she rejoice as she is reunited with her family.

Following Mary’s request and promises made she had a graveside service within 24 hours of her death. The services were held at Campground Cemetery off of US 441 S. between Whittier and Cherokee, NC on March 28, 2013 at 5:30PM. The Rev. Johnny Ray Davis officiated.

Long House Funeral Home followed Mary’s wishes.