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Saint-Castin, Baron de (1652–1707), French officer and Abenaki Indian leader, was born Jean-Vincent D’abbadie at Saint-Castin in southwestern France near the Pyrenees Mountains, the son of Jean-Jacques D’abbadie de Saint-Castin and Isabeau de Béarn-Bonasse. The D’abbadies were a minor noble family that has been traced back to the early 1300s, while Jean-Vincent’s mother was a direct descendant of Louis VIII of France. Louis XIV conferred the title of baron de Saint-Castin on Jean-Jacques in 1654. Little is known about Jean-Vincent’s childhood except that his mother died of the plague in 1652, and his father died ten years later. The first record of Jean-Vincent is his enrollment at age thirteen as an ensign in the Carignan-Salières regiment being transported to Canada in 1665. This youthful endeavor was not unique for the second son of a lesser noble who probably chafed under the control of the second baron de Saint-Castin, his brother only two years older....

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Thomas, William Holland (05 February 1805–10 May 1893), the only white man to serve as chief of the North Carolina Cherokees, businessman, and soldier, was born in Haywood County, North Carolina, the son of Richard Thomas (who died before his birth) and Temperance Calvert. His father was a veteran of the American Revolution who had accepted land in western North Carolina as payment for his service during that war. Thomas grew up as a unique transcultural figure on the rugged, mountainous North Carolina frontier. From his mother he learned Christianity, impeccable manners, and the value of reading and hard work. Felix Hampton Walker, a local storekeeper, gave him a set of law books, which at the age of fifteen he read with such diligence that he was able to practice law. Thomas’s childhood friendships with Cherokee boys led to his learning their language and customs. They nicknamed him Wil-Usdi, or Little Will, because he was short. Yonaguska, the aging head man, treated the fatherless white boy as his own son. Thomas played ritualistic games with his adopted people, defended them against all intruders, and encouraged the perpetuation of their native culture and human dignity....

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Watie, Stand (12 December 1806–09 September 1871), leader of the Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the Cherokees, Confederate brigadier general, and principal chief of the Confederate Cherokees, was born at Oothcaloga in the Cherokee Nation, Georgia, the son of Oo-wa-tie or the Ancient One and Susanna Charity Reese, farmers. After accepting Christianity Oo-wa-tie dropped “Oo” from his Cherokee name to form the surname Watie and afterward was known as David Watie. He also gave his children Christian names. Stand Watie, whose Cherokee name was De-ga-do-ga or He Stands, was named Isaac. Eventually he dropped Isaac and became known as Stand Watie—a combination of the English version of his Cherokee name and the Christian surname. Watie’s older brother Kilakeena or Buck Watie later changed his name to ...