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Adair, James (1709–1783), trader and author, was born in County Antrim, Ireland. Although his parentage is not certain, he probably was a younger son of Sir Robert Adair, a scion of the “Old English” Fitzgerald family. Having noble connections, but not overburdened with wealth, Adair emigrated to South Carolina in 1735 and immediately began trading with Indians....

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Bent, George (07 July 1843–19 May 1918), frontiersman, soldier, and Indian interpreter, was born at Bent’s Old Fort on the Arkansas River in present-day southeastern Colorado, the son of William Bent, a pioneer merchant and Indian trader, and his Cheyenne wife, Owl Woman. Named after an uncle who had been killed by Comanches on the Santa Fe Trail in 1841, George was the third of four children. When he was only four, his mother died giving birth to his sister Julia, and subsequently his father married Owl Woman’s sister, Yellow Woman, who was the mother of George’s half brother, Charles. George grew up bilingual and at age ten was sent with his siblings to the farm started by William Bent and his brother ...

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Brant, Molly (1736–16 April 1796), Mohawk, Loyalist, and Anglican, also known as Mary Brant or Konwatsi tsiaienni, was born either at the Mohawk “castle” of Canajoharie in upper New York or in the Ohio Valley, the daughter of Peter and Margaret, both Mohawks of the Six Nations Confederacy of Iroquois. She was the sister of ...

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Chisholm, Jesse (1805–04 April 1868), trader and frontier diplomat, was born probably in or near present-day Blount County, Tennessee, the son of Ignatius Chisholm, an adventurer of Scottish descent, and a part Cherokee woman, Martha Rogers, the daughter of Cherokee leader Charles Rogers. Jesse was most likely the first child of the union....

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Chouteau, Auguste Pierre (09 May 1786–25 December 1838), fur trader and Indian diplomat, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Jean Pierre Chouteau, a fur trader and one of the founders of St. Louis, and Pelagie Kiersereau. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point from 17 July 1804 until 20 June 1806 and became an ensign in the Second United States Infantry. After serving briefly as aide to General ...

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Cuming, Sir Alexander (c. 1690/1692– August 1775), leader of a Cherokee delegation from America to England, was born in Culter, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the son of Sir Alexander Cuming, M.P., the first baronet of Culter, Aberdeenshire, and Elizabeth Swinton. The visionary if erratic second baronet of Culter had a varied career. Called to the Scottish bar in 1714, he also held captain’s rank in the Russian army. He left the law when he received a pension of £300, bestowed by the government at Christmas 1718 for services either done by his family or to be performed by him. Cuming lost the pension three years later, either because he was thought unable to provide the expected services or, according to Cuming, because Sir Robert Walpole, just named first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer, had been angered by the elder Cuming’s opposition in Parliament....

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Vine Deloria Jr. Photograph by Cyrus McCrimmon Associated Press

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Deloria, Vine, Jr. (26 March 1933–13 November 2005), Native-American activist, writer, and lawyer, was born Vine Victor Deloria, Jr., near the Pine Ridge Oglala Sioux Indian Reservation in Martin, South Dakota, the son of Vine Victor Deloria, Sr., an Episcopalian priest and missionary who served as archdeacon and assistant secretary of Indian missions for the National Episcopal Church, and Barbara Eastburn. Vine Deloria, Sr., was the grandson of Saswe, whose Christian name was François Des Lauriers, the son of a French fur trader and a Native-American mother. Saswe (the Dakota pronunciation of François) was a noted Sioux shaman and the leader of a mixed-blood band that adopted Christianity. Saswe's son, the father of Vine Deloria, Sr., was the influential Sioux chief Philip Joseph Deloria, one of the first Native Americans to become an Episcopal priest....

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Dickson, Robert (1765–20 June 1823), fur trader and British Indian Department officer, was born in Dumfries, Scotland, the son of John Dickson, a merchant. His mother’s name is unknown. Robert Dickson emigrated to the United States in 1785–1786, soon after the American Revolution and was first employed at Oswego (N.Y.), where “he began his apprenticeship, which induced him to adopt the fur trade as a life-long occupation” (Cruikshank [1931], p. 88). Within a few months, Dickson was removed to the Niagara area, where his duties included selling and shipping goods to the fur-trade posts and managing accounts. As he was closely connected with some of the most respected and influential Loyalist families along the Niagara, Dickson enjoyed preferential treatment in both the choice and flexibility of his work. As a result of this good fortune, Dickson took the opportunity to leave the drab routine of his work at Niagara and in July 1786 was pleased to be transferred to the “Island of Michilimackinac” (MacKinac Island, Mich.) in order “to learn the art and mystery of commerce” (Cartwright papers, 10 July 1786)....

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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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Dorman, Isaiah (?–26 June 1876), frontiersman and interpreter, was known as “Teat,” or the Wasicun Sapa (Black White Man), among the Sioux of Dakota Territory. Nothing is known of his life before he entered the territory as a young man around 1850; he is thought to have been an escaped slave who fled to the wilderness to avoid capture. Sioux tribal history records his presence in their midst from that date; he became known to white settlers in 1865, by which time he had become fluent in the Sioux dialect. About this time he married a Sioux woman and built a log cabin near Fort Rice, in Dakota Territory, not far from present-day Bismarck, North Dakota. For a while he earned a living cutting wood for the fort and for a trading firm, Durfee and Peck....

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Dorris, Michael (30 January 1945–11 April 1997), writer and academician, was born Michael Anthony Dorris in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Jim Leonard Dorris, a soldier, and Mary Burkhardt Dorris. Jim Dorris was killed in the late stages of World War II or shortly after the war, depending on the source consulted. As a result, Dorris was raised by his mother, aunt, and two grandmothers. As a youngster, Dorris read voraciously, borrowing books from adults and spending time in libraries. Following high school, he enrolled at Georgetown University, the first member of his family to attend college. He earned a B.A. degree (cum laude) in 1967 and an M.Phil. from Yale University in 1970. He was a successful academician, holding faculty appointments at the University of Redlands (1970–1971), Franconia College (1971–1972), and Dartmouth College (1972–1989, adjunct 1989–1997). While at Dartmouth, he founded and taught in the Native American Studies Program. Dorris's ancestry has been described as mixed Irish, French, and Native American, with the latter more specifically identified as “Modoc on his father's side.”...

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Charles A. Eastman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102275).

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Eastman, Charles Alexander (19 February 1858–08 January 1939), Indian author and reformer, was born near Redwood Falls, Minnesota, the son of Ite Wakanhdi Ota (Many Lightnings), a Wahpeton Sioux, and Wakantankanwin (Goddess), whose English name was Mary Nancy Eastman, the mixed-blood daughter of Captain Seth Eastman, the noted artist, and Wakan inajin win (Stands Sacred). Eastman’s mother died from complications as a result of his birth. His paternal grandmother and later his uncle raised him in the traditional ways of a Sioux boy. In 1862 he received the name Ohiyesa—meaning “the winner”—when his band defeated another in a lacrosse game. He used the name in conjunction with the English name he acquired later in his life....

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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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Folger, Peter (1617–1690), translator and government official, was born in Norwich, England, the son of John Folger and Meriba Gibbs. Around 1635 Peter Folger immigrated to Massachusetts with his widower father. During the voyage to America on board the vessel Abigail, he met and fell in love with Mary Morrill, an indentured maidservant. Living at first in Dedham and Watertown, Folger worked as an artisan for nine years (he was variously skilled as a weaver, miller, surveyor, and shoemaker) to raise the sum of twenty pounds necessary to buy Morrill’s freedom from ...

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Hiacoomes (?–1690), member of the Pokanauket band of the Narragansetts, who became a Calvinist minister, lived near Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Little is known about his early life, but he had one son who also became a minister.

In 1641 Thomas Mayhew, Sr....

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Ishi (1862?–25 March 1916), the last "Stone Age" Indian in California and, probably, in the entire United States, the last “Stone Age” Indian in California and, probably, in the entire United States, was a member of the Yahi people of northeastern California. He was encountered in a slaughterhouse corral in Oroville, California, on 29 August 1911, thirty-eight years after the last major Indian conflict in the state. When taken into custody by Sheriff J. B. Webber of Butte County, Ishi was naked save for a scrap of old wagon canvas, worn like a cape, and very weak from exposure and near starvation. Communication with him, other than in sign language, was impossible, although English, Spanish, and several Indian tongues—such as Maidu and Wintun—were tried....

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Lame Deer, John Fire (1903–15 December 1976), coauthor of a popular account of American Indian life, was born with the Lakota name Tahca Ushte (Lame Deer) and the English name John Fire on the Lakota reservation in southwestern South Dakota, the son of Silas Let-Them-Have-Enough and Sally Red Blanket. He was one of twelve children, but many of his siblings did not reach maturity and others died in early adulthood. He was raised in large part by his maternal grandparents, Good Fox and Plenty White Buffalo, in a small log cabin located on or near the border between the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. Around the age of eight, he was forced by an agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to go to a school where the main focus was on discipline and where no teacher was capable of teaching at any level higher than the third grade. After six years in this school, he was sent to a white boarding school, where he became increasingly rebellious. Apparently he stayed only two years....

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Logan, James (1725–1780), Mingo Indian, famous in his own time as an ally of English colonials; succeeding generations remember the tragedy that befell him and the lament he made in response. He was probably born at the village of Shamokin (Sunbury, Pa.), the son of the Oneida chief Shikellamy and a Cayuga woman. Known as Soyechtowa, Tocaniadorogon, or Logan the Mingo, historians have incorrectly called him Tah-gah-jute....