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Benton, Thomas Hart, Jr. (05 September 1816–10 April 1879), frontier educator and legislator, was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, the son of Samuel Benton, a congressman. His mother’s name is unknown. His uncle and namesake practiced law as an associate of Andrew Jackson...

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Henry Roe Cloud. Courtesy of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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Cloud, Henry Roe (28 December 1884–09 February 1950), Native American educator and leader, was born on the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska, the son of Chayskagah (White Buffalo) and Aboogenewingah (Hummingbird), who lived by trapping and gathering. He was called Wohnaxilayhungah, or Chief of the Place of Fear (the battleground). He was named Henry Cloud by a reservation school administrator and as a boy was the tribe’s first convert to Christianity. After his parents died in 1898 and further Indian school education, he went to the Mount Hermon School, a workstudy school in Massachusetts, and thence to Yale, becoming that university’s first Native American graduate, in 1910. As a college sophomore he worked successfully for the release of Apache prisoners who were incarcerated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, because their leader, ...

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Dorion, Marie (1790–05 September 1850), interpreter, was born into the Iowa tribe as Marie Aioe, or Marie L’Aguivoise; both versions of her maiden surname, variations on the word “Iowa,” appear in early nineteenth-century records of Oregon and Washington territories. Nothing is known of her life until she became the common-law wife of a half Sioux, half French-Canadian fur trader, Pierre Dorion, Jr., around 1806 in the vicinity of what is now Yankton, South Dakota. Pierre Dorion, Sr., had been an interpreter and a guide with the ...

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Dupratz, Antoine Simon Le Page (1695–1758), pioneer and historian, was probably born in the Netherlands, according to some nineteenth-century historians. He considered himself French, however, once calling France “ma patrie.” He was a member of a regiment of dragoons fighting under Louis XIV of France in the German campaigns during the War of the Spanish Succession, which ended in 1713. By 1718 he had studied architecture, hydraulic engineering, and mathematics and was eager to seek adventure in the New World. He joined the Compagnie de la Louisiane ou d’Occident (also called the Company of the West and the Mississippi Company), which had been founded in 1717 by John Law—a Scottish economist and financier under Louis XV of France—for the purpose of extending the French empire into Louisiana....

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Fleete, Henry (1602–1661), English colonial merchant and Indian interpreter, was born in County Kent, England, the son of William Fleete, a lawyer and country squire, and Deborah Scott. Residing in America after 1621, Fleete is best known for pioneering the Potomac River beaver trade between the late 1620s and early 1630s and for guiding Lord Baltimore’s colonists to their first Maryland settlement in March 1634....

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Girty, Simon (1741–18 February 1818), British Loyalist and frontier warrior, was born near Harrisburg in colonial Pennsylvania, the son of farmers. One of at least four children born to Simon Girty and Mary Newton, young Simon was raised in modest circumstances. He received no formal education and remained illiterate. When only ten years of age, his father was killed by an Indian. Girty later maintained that his stepfather met a similar fate. In the course of the French and Indian War, Simon was captured by the Seneca and held captive for thirty-six months. During his captivity, Girty became familiar with the language of his captors....

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Hatathli, Ned (11 October 1923–16 October 1973), Navajo leader and educator, was born in Coalmine Mesa, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation. His parents’ names are not available, but they probably herded sheep and farmed. Hatathli was one of ten children, and he was reared in a traditional Navajo family of this time. Hatathli grew up near the western Navajo settlement of Tuba City, Arizona. In common with most Navajo children of this period, he helped herd the livestock of his parents and extended family and probably imagined himself living a life comparable to that of his older relatives. Unlike many children of this time, however, he was encouraged by one of those relatives to go to school. The heavy-handed assimilation of Bureau of Indian Affairs schools—denying the use of the Navajo language and discouraging other dimensions of the people’s culture—had reduced enrollment. Even though Hatathli began his education at a boarding school, he came of age in the 1930s, when changing BIA philosophies fostered a greater degree of cultural pluralism, including more appreciation for Indian languages and arts. Hatathli eventually attended Haskell Institute, a prominent bureau school in Lawrence, Kansas, and then served in the U.S. Navy before returning home to northern Arizona. In the town of Flagstaff, bordering the Navajo reservation, he attended and graduated from Arizona State Teachers College, known today as Northern Arizona University....

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Ii, John Papa (03 August 1800–02 May 1870), native Hawaiian jurist and historian, was born at Waipio, Ewa, Oahu Island, Kingdom of Hawaii, the son of Malamaekeeke and Wanaoa, descendants of the chiefs of Hawaii Island. Ii’s family were intimates and junior relatives of the ruling royal family, the Kamehameha dynasty. He was named Papa Ii (pronounced ēē) after an uncle who held a particularly high station in the Kamehameha court. He took the name John (Ioane) upon his conversion to Christianity. John Papa Ii was born into the aristocracy of ancient Hawaii and was a child of privilege. The family had been granted the rich lands at Waipio following the conquest of Oahu by King ...

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Kinzie, Juliette Augusta Magill (11 September 1806–15 September 1870), historian, writer, and early Illinois settler, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the daughter of Arthur William Magill, a banker, and Frances Wolcott. She received a richer and more complete education than that usually available to young women. She attended a boarding school in New Haven, Connecticut; was tutored by her uncle, Alexander Wolcott, in Latin and other languages while he was a student at Yale; and spent time at ...

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Malo, Davida (18 February 1795–21 October 1853), native Hawaiian scholar and counselor of the high chiefs, also known as David, was born in Keauhou, North Kona, Hawaii, the son of Aoao, a warrior in the court of high chief Kamehameha the Great, and his wife, Heone. During Malo’s youth, which was the early postcontact period, after 1778, he was trained as a traditional court genealogist under the island’s foremost genealogist, Auwae Kaaloa. Malo became intimate with much of the traditional culture of Hawaiian chiefly society, particularly its worldview, religion, and politics during a period of transition due to the immense influence of Western (Euro-American) explorers and adventurers and the internal struggles for the unification of the island under one sovereign....

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McNickle, D’Arcy (18 January 1904–15 October 1977), author, government official, and anthropologist, was born William D’Arcy McNickle at St. Ignatius, Montana, on the Flathead Indian reservation, the youngest child of William McNickle and Philomene Parenteau, farmers. D’Arcy McNickle’s maternal grandparents, Isidore Parenteau and Judith Plante, were members of the Canadian Metis community, which traced its heritage to French, Chippewa, and Cree ancestors. They had fled from Saskatchewan to Montana following their participation in the Metis rebellion in 1885. McNickle’s father, the son of Irish immigrants, had come from Pittsburgh to Montana to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad....

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Musgrove, Mary (1700–1766), interpreter and liaison between early Georgians and the native Indians, whose Creek name was Coosaponakeesa, was the daughter of an English trader and an Indian mother, although her exact parentage and birthplace are unknown. Her later claims of “royal” Indian kinship have been questioned, but she did have powerful connections and standing among the Creeks. Details of her childhood are sketchy; it is known, however, that she spent time in each culture and spoke both languages. As early as 1716–1717 she married trader John Musgrove and established a trading post on the Savannah River at Yamacraw Bluff. None of their children survived to adulthood, and John Musgrove died in 1735....

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Royce, Sarah Eleanor Bayliss (02 March 1819–23 November 1891), pioneer, teacher, and writer, was born in Stratford-on-Avon, England, the daughter of Benjamin Bayliss, a tailor, and Mary Trimble (or Timbell). Her parents brought her as a baby with five older children to the United States in 1819. They lived for a time in Philadelphia before settling in Rochester, New York. Sarah was educated as extensively as a woman then could be, with what her daughter would call an “old-style academy education” at the Albion Female Seminary. She then taught school, as she would at many other times in her life. She joined the Disciples of Christ and probably at church meetings met Josiah Royce, Sr., an Englishman whose family had lived for a time in Canada before coming to New York State. The two were married on 31 May 1845....

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe (28 March 1793–10 December 1864), author, ethnologist, and Indian agent, was born on a farmstead on Black Creek, near Albany, New York, the son of Lawrence Schoolcraft, a farmer and glass manufacturer, and Margaret Anne Barbara Rowe. He attended school and received tutoring in Latin in Hamilton, New York, where his father served as justice of the peace. After the family moved to Vernon, New York, in 1808, he held responsible positions in the construction and management of glass factories in New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont, often in business with his father. Although for a time he had the stimulating intellectual influence of an older mentor, a professor at Middlebury College, Vermont, Schoolcraft never attended classes. He acquired a library of scientific books and performed experiments in chemistry and mineralogy. Despite his recognized competence, he achieved only temporary success in glass manufacturing....

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Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. Engraving, second half of nineteenth century. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109383).

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Viele, Aernout Cornelissen (1640–1704), trader and linguist, was born in New Amsterdam, the largest town of the New Netherland colony, but baptized in Albany in 1640, the son of Cornelis Volkertszen Vielé, a tavernkeeper, and Maria du Trieux. Aernout Cornelissen grew to manhood in the atmosphere of public exchange of information that typified taverns on both sides of the Atlantic. Traders from the Dutch colony to the Five Nations frequented his father’s establishment, and perhaps from them Aernout developed what became a lifelong fascination with the culture and language of the Five Nations. At the age of twenty he signed a petition drawn up in 1659 by concerned traders who sought to suppress illicit trade and contacts of Europeans with Native Americans by calling for the interdiction of European trading in the Indian lands without prior approval of the Dutch colonial leaders....

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Warren, William Whipple (27 May 1825–01 June 1853), Ojibwa historian and legislator, was born in La Pointe, on Madeline Island, Wisconsin, in Lake Superior, the son of Lyman Marcus Warren, a fur trader, and Mary Cadotte, of French and Ojibwa descent. The oldest of eight children, William was raised in a home with an extensive library. According to the first missionary at nearby Leech Lake, Rev. William T. Boutwell, the children were given “the benefits of a Christian education.” At age seven William attended the mission school at La Pointe and, the following year, the mission school at Mackinaw. When he was eleven his grandfather took him to New York, where he studied from 1838 to 1841 at the Oneida Institute in Whitesborough, near Utica, a school run by Rev. ...