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Barboncito (before 1825–16 March 1871), Navajo headman, was born in lower Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, to a Navajo woman of the Ma'iidesgizhnii (Coyote Pass or Jemez clan) and an unknown father. His war name was Hashke Yich'i'adehyilwod, “He Ran Down toward the Enemies in Anger.” He was also known by a number of sobriquets during his lifetime, one of which, Hastiin Daghaa'í, “Mr. Mustache,” gave rise to his Spanish-English name. Little is known of his early life except that he had at least three brothers. He had two wives; how many children is not recorded....

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Billy Bowlegs (1812?–1864?), Seminole chief, who led the third and final Seminole war against the whites of Florida, also known as the Billy Bowlegs war of 1855–1858, was born on the Alachua savannah in Florida. He was a direct descendant of Secoffee, originally a Creek chief who migrated to Florida from the Creek homelands in Alabama and Georgia and later founded the Seminole nation. The names of Billy Bowlegs’s father, mother, and other family members are unknown....

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Nancy Oestreich Lurie

Black Hawk (1767–03 October 1838), Sauk war leader, was born at the village of Saukenuk, the present site of Rock Island, Illinois. He grew up hating the American invaders of his homeland, and during the War of 1812 he fought among Tecumseh’s warriors on the British side. However, Black Hawk’s fame rests primarily on the war bearing his name that was carried out during the spring and summer of 1832 in northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin. It ended in a bloody encounter near the confluence of the Bad Axe and Mississippi rivers north of Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The war had its genesis in a treaty signed by a delegation of Sauk and Fox Indians in 1804 at St. Louis. The signers thought the treaty was to establish peace after some settlers had been killed, but it really called for the tribes to cede a vast tract extending from southern Wisconsin through western Illinois and a strip along the Mississippi River in Missouri. The treaty allowed the Indians to occupy the land until it was opened for sale to whites, so the Indians did not realize they had signed away territory until settlers began buying up the land in the 1820s....

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Black Hoof (fl. 1795–1831), head civil chief of the Ohio Shawnees and member of the Mekoche division of that tribe, , had the Indian name Catecahassa or Cutthewekasaw. He died at an advanced age—estimates range up to an improbable 115 years—and references to his origins are contradictory. Indian agent John Johnston, who knew him well, said the chief remembered bathing in the sea off Florida as a boy, but he is represented to have told another acquaintance that he was born on the Monongahela River. Black Hoof told more than one person that he was present at Braddock’s defeat in 1755, although no Shawnees are known to have participated in that action. He was probably at the battle of Point Pleasant (1774), as he said, and one witness recalled that Black Hoof helped ...

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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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Bright Eyes (1854–26 May 1903), Indian rights advocate and author, also known as Inshtatheamba or Susette La Flesche, was born on the Omaha Reservation near Bellevue, Nebraska, just south of present-day Omaha, the daughter of Joseph La Flesche, also known as Inshtamaza or Iron Eye, a chief of the Omaha, and his wife Mary Gale, a mixed-blood Omaha and Iowa whose Indian name was The One Woman. Susette’s paternal grandparents were a Frenchman, also named Joseph, who was a trader and trapper for the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada, and either an Omaha or Ponca woman named Watunna. Because her husband often was away trading or trapping, Watunna left him and married a member of the Omaha tribe. For a while the younger Joseph La Flesche was raised by two aunts who spent part of their time among the Sioux. Later, when his father returned, the younger La Flesche joined him when he once again left on his trading expeditions....

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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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Geronimo (1823–17 February 1909), Bedonkohe Apache war leader, also known by his Apache name, Goyahkla (One Who Yawns), was born on the upper Gila River in what is now either Arizona or New Mexico. He was the son of Taklishim (The Gray One) and Juana, a full-blooded Apache remembered by her Spanish name; his grandfather was the noted chief Mahko. His father died when Geronimo was young, and the boy and his mother went to Sonora, where they joined the Nednhi (or southern Chiricahua Apache) band led by ...

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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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Joseph (1840?–21 September 1904), Nez Percé leader, Nez Percé leader sometimes known as Young Joseph, was born in a cave near Joseph Creek in the Wallowa Valley, the son of Tu-eka-kas, or Old Joseph, a Cayuse, and Etoweenmy (Asenath), a Nez Percé. The names Joseph and Asenath were conferred on his parents by missionaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, who had established themselves on Lapwai Creek, Idaho, in 1836. His Indian name, Hin-mut-too-uah-lat-kekht, in English means Thunder Rolling in the Mountains....

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Keokuk (1790–1848), Sauk (Sac) chief, Sauk (Sac) chief, was born at Saukenuk, his tribe’s village near the mouth of the Rock River in present-day Illinois, a member of the Fox clan. His mother, Lalotte, was part French. An imposing figure and an eloquent speaker, Keokuk (Watchful Fox) rose to prominence during the War of 1812 when, despite his lack of fighting experience, he took advantage of a perceived U.S. threat to Saukenuk to gain the rank of Sauk war chief. Although there is no evidence of Keokuk’s participation in battles with the Americans, he was a tribal leader of consequence by the end of the war....

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Little Crow (1812?–03 July 1863), Mdewakanton Dakota chief of the Kaposia band and principal leader of the Dakota (or Santee) in the War of 1862 in Minnesota, Mdewakanton Dakota chief of the Kaposia band and principal leader of the Dakota (or Santee) in the War of 1862 in Minnesota, was the son of chief Big Thunder (Wakinyantanka) and a Mdewakanton woman believed to be Woman Planting in Water (Minio Kadawin). He was also known as His Scarlet People (Taoyateduta). Little Crow was descended from several generations of influential chieftains. His grandfather, Hawk that Hunts Walking (Chetanwakuamani), was considered the “first war chief” of the Dakotas by the British in the War of 1812; he died in 1833 or 1834 and was succeeded by his son Big Thunder, who died of accidental gunshot wounds in 1845. While his father was chief, Little Crow was exiled from his band—apparently for illicit affairs. During the 1830s he served the American cause in the ...

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McIntosh, William (1778?–30 April 1825), military leader and high-ranking chief in the Creek Nation, was born in Coweta, in present-day Russell County, Alabama, the son of Captain William McIntosh, a recruiter for the British army, and Senoya, a full-blooded Creek. McIntosh was raised as a Creek, enduring the customary rites of passage and advancing to the rank of chief, ...

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Nampeyo (1859–20 July 1942), Native American potter, was born in Tewa Village (Hano), First Mesa, Hopi reservation, Arizona, the daughter of Qotsvema, a Hopi farmer from Walpi, and Qotcakao of the Corn Clan at Hano. She was named Tcumana (Snake Girl) by her paternal grandmother because her father was of the Snake Clan; however, her Tewa name, Numpayu (“Snake that does not bite”), was more commonly used because she lived at Hano....

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Osceola (1802?–30 January 1838), Seminole war leader (tastanagi), Seminole war leader ( tastanagi), was born in Alabama, probably the son of a white trader, William Powell, and a mestizo Creek woman (name unknown), who was the granddaughter of a Scot, James McQueen, and the niece of ...

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Parker, Quanah (1852–23 February 1911), Comanche chief, was born on the Southern Plains, the son of Peta Nocona, a Comanche warrior, and Cynthia Ann Parker, a captive white woman. White troops recaptured his mother in 1860, and his father died a few years later. Very little is known of his prereservation existence, including the origin of his Indian name (Odor)....

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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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Plenty Coups (1848–04 March 1932), last of the traditional Crow chiefs, was born near present-day Billings, Montana, the son of Medicine Bird and Otter Woman. His name was given by his grandfather from a dream that the boy would count many coups (war deeds), live to an old age, and become a chief. At some point in his life, he was also given the name Bull That Goes into (or against) the Wind. He was a Mountain Crow, one of the three divisions of the tribe. He was a member of the Sore Lips clan of the tribe. His father died when Plenty Coups was young. He was first married relatively late at age twenty-four to Knows Her Mother, though another woman he had intended to wed died before they could marry. His last two wives were Kills Together and Strikes the Iron. Though he married about twelve different times, he had only two children, both of whom died at a young age. However, he did adopt and raise some poor children....

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Powhatan (fl. 1607–1618), principal Algonquian chief of coastal Virginia, and most famous Indian leader during the first decade of the Jamestown colony, was also known as Wahunsonacock or Wahunsonacawh. His precise origins and parentage are unknown, although it is widely believed that he was born in the 1540s near the present site of Richmond, Virginia....

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Pushmataha (1764?–24 December 1824), Choctaw chief, was born of unknown parentage on Noxuba Creek in what is now Noxubee County, Mississippi. He once expressed annoyance when Andrew Jackson inquired about his background at a gathering of Washington officials. After first telling the general that it was “none of his business,” he said that he had no parents but emerged as a full-grown warrior from an oak tree split by a lightning bolt....