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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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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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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....