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Blue Jacket (1740?–1808?), Shawnee warrior and diplomat, was probably born in Pennsylvania. Originally called Sepettekenathe (Big Rabbit), he changed his name to Waweyapiersenwa (Whirlpool) before 1778 but was generally known as Blue Jacket. He probably belonged to the Pekowi division of the Shawnee tribe. By 1772 he had become a war chief among the Shawnees of the upper Scioto River, where he had a village on Deer Creek. His influence rested upon his prowess as a warrior and his extensive connections and familiarity with whites....

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Joseph Brant. Engraving by J. R. Smith after a painting by George Romney, c. 1776. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-4913).

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Brant, Joseph (1743–24 November 1807), Mohawk chief and captain in the British Indian Department, also known as Thayendanegea, was born while his family was in the Ohio country, the son of Peter Tehowaghwengaraghkwin and Margaret. His father died shortly after Brant’s birth, and he may have had several stepfathers, one of them the influential Brant Canagaraduncka, from whom Joseph Brant took his name. His mother’s family appears to have been prominent in the Mohawk town of Canajoharie. Brant is reputed to have gone to war as part of the Mohawk contingent allied to the British in the French and Indian War. His sister ...

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Dunquat (1740–1789), intertribal leader appointed by the British and the Detroit Hurons in the Ohio country during the revolutionary war and for several years thereafter, was also known as Pomoacan and Petawantakas. Nothing is known about the first decades of Dunquat’s life. Until 1774 he lived in the Hurons’ Brownstown (present-day Michigan) village. He was at first identified as a Huron and later as a Wyandot, although in 1781 he claimed that he was New York Iroquois in origin....

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George, Samuel (1795–24 September 1873), Onondaga chief and Iroquois Confederacy spokesman, was born into the Wolf clan on the Buffalo Creek Reservation in western New York State. This community, which encompassed much of the present-day city of Buffalo, was the cultural, political, and religious center of Indian life in the state in the years after the American Revolution. Although we know nothing about George’s parents, we do know that he grew to manhood during approximately the same period as the spread of a major Iroquois religious revival led by ...

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Guyasuta (1725–1794), Seneca chief and diplomat, was probably born on the Genesee River in New York into the Wolf clan of the Senecas. As Guyasuta grew to adulthood, the western Seneca (those of the Genesee Valley westward into the Ohio country) generally pursued a pro-French policy. Nevertheless, Guyasuta is said to have guided the young ...

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Hiawatha (fourteenth century–?), Onondaga warrior and orator, was spokesman for Deganawidah in the campaign for the formation of the League of the Hau-De-No-Sau-Nee, or People of the Longhouse. In the absence of contemporary sources, our current information is based on oral traditions handed down by the elders, some of which were recorded and published only in the late nineteenth century. Oral tradition is transmitted through storytelling, ritual reenactments, and sacred symbols carved on wooden sticks or embroidered on wampum belts. The so-called myths are of historical importance because they reflect the traditional values of the past and are called on to resolve present issues....

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Duane Hollow Horn Bear, Duane Hollow Horn Bear and Duane Hollow Horn Bear

Hollow Horn Bear (1851–15 March 1913), Lakota chief and diplomat, whose Christian name was Daniel, was born in Nebraska Territory, the son of Iron Shell, Sr. (Maza Pankeska), a Lakota chief, and Wants Everything (Wisica Wacin Win). His Lakota name was Mato Hehlogece. Hollow Horn Bear was born in the year the Lakota people (also known as the Teton or Western Sioux) signed a treaty of peace with the United States at Fort Laramie. His family lived among the Sicangu (Brule or Burnt Thigh) division of the Lakota, and his father was the chief of an important family group ( ...

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Hollow Horn Bear Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102873).

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LeFlore, Greenwood (03 June 1800–31 August 1865), chief of the Choctaws, planter, and member of the Mississippi legislature, was born near the present site of the old state capitol in Jackson, Mississippi, the son of Louis LeFlore, a French Canadian who lived among the Choctaws as an agent and trader, and Rebecca Cravat, a young girl from an important Choctaw family. When Greenwood was twelve years old, Major John Donley, who handled mail along the Natchez Trace, took the boy to his home near Nashville, Tennessee, where he stayed for five years attending school. At seventeen Greenwood asked permission to marry Donley’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Rosa, but Donley did not consent to the marriage because they were too young. Greenwood and Rosa slipped away to a friend’s home to get married, and Greenwood thereafter took his bride home to Mississippi, where two children were born....

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Mazakutemani, Paul (1806?–06 January 1885), Wahpeton Dakota, known for his oratorical skill and pro-white stance in the Dakota War of 1862, was born probably at Lac qui Parle, Minnesota, the son of a Mdewakanton man and Old Eve, a Wahpeton woman. His Indian name translates as Shoots Iron [Gun] as He Walks; he was also known as Little Paul....

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Morgan, Jacob Casimera (14 September 1879–10 May 1950), Navajo political leader, was born at Nahodeshgizh, New Mexico, near the Navajo reservation. He was born into a traditional Navajo family, which herded sheep in the area near Crownpoint. His father’s given name was Casimera; his mother’s name is not known. Morgan enrolled in school at the age of seven. Most Navajo children of the era did not attend school, but Morgan’s decision was prompted by his father’s joining the U.S. Army in 1886 to serve as a scout in a final campaign against the Apaches. Young Jacob visited his father at Fort Wingate and saw another Navajo boy dressed in a school uniform. Admiring the look of the outfit, Morgan chose to attend the other boy’s school at Fort Defiance, Arizona. Soon after his arrival, he volunteered through the act of raising his hand, but not knowing what he was agreeing to, to transfer to another government boarding school in Grand Junction, Colorado. In the spare new surroundings of the Colorado institution, Morgan learned to play the cornet, was converted to Christianity, and gained increasing fluency in English....

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Ostenaco (fl. 1741–1777), Cherokee chief, warrior, and orator, also known as Outacite, was born probably in the first decade of the eighteenth century. The identities of his parents are not known. He was first associated with the Overhill towns of Hiwassee and later Tomotly (in present-day Monroe and Polk counties in Tennessee). Outacite means “mankiller,” and although there were numerous “mankillers” in the various Cherokee towns, the most famous was the individual normally referred to in the colonial records and histories as Ostenaco or Judd’s Friend. (Aside from mention of a daughter, nothing about his having a family is on record.) Ostenaco must have won his title of mankiller very early because by 1741 he had distinguished himself sufficiently to be named as one of the guardians of the young teenager Ammonscossittee. This young Cherokee inherited from his father, Moytoy of Tellico, the title of emperor of the Cherokee nation....

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Pitchlynn, Peter Perkins (30 January 1806–17 January 1881), diplomat and Choctaw chief, was born at Hush-ook-wa, a Choctaw community in present-day northeastern Mississippi. He was the son of John Pitchlynn, an English–Indian trader, and Sophia Folsom, the Metis (mixed-blood) daughter of Ebenezer Folsom. Christened Ha-tchoc-tuck-nee (“Snapping Turtle”) by his fullblood friends, Peter Pitchlynn enjoyed a childhood atypical of his Choctaw companions. The economic success of his father meant that he enjoyed many “civilized” amenities, including the labor of black slaves. Traders, travelers, government officials, and Christian ministers also visited his home. In the 1820s, moreover, he attended two mission schools in Tennessee; the renowned Choctaw Academy in Blue Lick, Kentucky; and the University of Nashville in Tennessee. In 1824 he married Rhoda Folsom, the sister of Choctaw leader ...

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Peter Perkins Pitchlynn. Lithograph, 1842, by Peter S. Duval (after Charles Fenderich). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Popé (?–1688), principal organizer of the Pueblo revolt (1680) that drove the Spanish from New Mexico for twelve years, principal organizer of the Pueblo revolt (1680) that drove the Spanish from New Mexico for twelve years, was a native of the village of San Juan. Although virtually nothing is known about Popé’s early life, emergence as an important political and religious leader marks his adulthood. Popé (the Tewa name may refer to a ripe plant) lived amid the turmoil created by Spain’s 1598 colonization of New Mexico. By 1680 many of New Mexico’s village-dwelling Pueblo farmers felt victimized by Spanish religious persecution and demands on their labor. Conditions favored the emergence of a leader like Popé, who offered a counterweight to Spanish domination. For traditional leaders, whose secular roles entwined with the religious sphere of Pueblo life, the remedy lay in emphasizing those cultural attributes that set them apart from the Spanish. Accordingly, Popé and those of like mind sought revival of the proven ways of the Pueblo past. It was as a proponent of this policy of cultural renaissance, acting in his capacity as a religious leader of shamanic proportions, that Popé attained influence....

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Sayenqueraghta (1707?–1786?), Seneca leader and diplomat, was born probably in Ganundasaga near present-day Geneva, New York, the son of Cayenquaraghta, a Seneca chief killed during one of the frontier clashes between France and England. His mother’s name is unknown. Variant spellings and translations of his name include Kaien?kwaahton, Kayenquarachton, Smoke, Smoke Vanishes, Old Smoke, Old King, the Seneca King, and the King of Kanadesaga....

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Snake (fl. 1774–1812), Shawnee warrior and diplomat, was also known as Blacksnake and Captain Snake. His Indian name has been rendered as Pataso, Petazo, Peteasua, Patasua, and Ptasua. The name “Snake” was held by at least two Shawnee leaders of the period. Disentangling references to the different individuals is difficult, but the more famous Captain Snake should not be confused with the younger Shemenetoo, or Big Snake, who signed the treaties of Greenville (1814), Spring Wells (1815), and the Miami (1817) and who emigrated from Ohio to territory west of the Mississippi, where he died in the later 1830s. Captain Snake was a notable figure in frontier war and politics during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and evidently died at Wapakoneta on the Auglaize River, Ohio, about 1813....

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Teedyuskung (1700–19 April 1763), orator and native leader, was born near Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Old Captain Harris and Hanna, leaders of the Delaware in Jersey and Lehigh, Pennsylvania. Teedyuskung spent his life on the margins of white society, leading groups of displaced and demoralized native peoples while using his services to manipulate leaders of Pennsylvania to his own advantage. While his male relatives are well known, his female kin, who were much more important, since Delawares derived their identity and clanship from women, are ignored in written sources. His brothers included Young Captain (Peter or Petrus) Harris, Captain John, and the Evans brothers: Tom, Joe (Nicodemus), and Sam. As a young adult, Teedyuskung supported himself by making brooms and baskets for sale around Trenton. Only a few Delawares remained in their homeland; the majority were then living together in Ohio, observing ancient traditions....