Top 10 Famous Native Americans

10. Chief Gall

Gall (c. 1840 – 1894) Lakota Phizí, was a battle leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota in the long war against the United States. He was one of the commanders in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Gall settled his band on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas. Becoming a farmer, he encouraged his people to assimilate to reservation life.

He became a Christian convert. He served as a judge of the Court of Indian Affairs on the reservation. He became friendly with the Indian Agent, James McLaughlin. Eventually Gall turned against Sitting Bull, who had become involved with the Ghost Dance movement. Gall lived on the Standing Rock Agency until his death on December 5, 1894. -Wikipedia.org

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9. Red Cloud

Red Cloud (Lakota: Maȟpíya Lúta), (1822 – December 10, 1909) was a war leader of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). One of the most capable Native American opponents the United States Army faced, he led a successful conflict in 1866–1868 known as Red Cloud’s War over control of the Powder River Country in northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana. After the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), he led his people in the important transition to reservation life. Some of his US opponents thought of him as overall leader of the Sioux, but this was mistaken. The large tribe had several major divisions and was highly decentralized. Bands among the Oglala and other divisions operated independently, even though some individual leaders such as Red Cloud were renowned as warriors. -Wikipedia.org

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8. Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph (March 3, 1840 – September 21, 1904) was the chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce during General Oliver O. Howard’s attempt to forcibly remove his band and the other “non-treaty” Nez Perce to a reservation in Idaho. For his principled resistance to the removal, he became renowned as a humanitarian and peacemaker. An influx of new settlers caused by a gold rush  led the government to call a second council in 1863.

Government commissioners asked the Nez Perce to accept a new, much smaller reservation of 780,000 acres (3,200 km2) centered around the village of Lapwai  in Idaho, and excluding the Wallowa Valley. In exchange, they were promised financial rewards and schools and a hospital for the reservation. Head Chief Lawyer  and one of his allied chiefs signed the treaty on behalf of the Nez Perce Nation, but Joseph the Elder and several other chiefs were opposed to selling their lands, and did not sign.

Their refusal to sign caused a rift between the “non-treaty” and “treaty” bands of Nez Perce. The “treaty” Nez Perce moved within the new Idaho reservation’s boundaries, while the “non-treaty” Nez Perce remained on their lands. Joseph the Elder demarcated Wallowa land with a series of poles, proclaiming, “Inside this boundary all our people were born. It circles the graves of our fathers, and we will never give up these graves to any man. -Wikipedia.org

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7. Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse, literally “His-Horse-Is-Crazy” or “His-Horse-Is-Spirited” ; ca. 1840 – September 5, 1877) was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the U.S. Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party at the Battle of the Little Bighorn  in June 1876.

After surrendering to U.S. troops under General Crook in 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and has been honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp. -Wikipedia.org

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6. Geronimo

Geronimo (“one who yawns”; often spelled Goyathlay or Goyahkla in English) (June 16, 1829 – February 17, 1909) was a prominent Native American leader and medicine man of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States and their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. The first Apache raids on Sonora and Chihuahua appear to have taken place during the late 17th century. To counter the early Apache raids on Spanish settlements, presidios were established at Janos (1685) in Chihuahua and at Fronteras (1690) in northern Opata  country. In 1835, Mexico had placed a bounty on Apache scalps.

Two years later Mangas Coloradas or Dasoda-hae (Red Sleeves) became principal chief and war leader and began a series of retaliatory raids against the Mexicans. Apache raids on Mexican villages were so numerous and brutal that no area was safe. While Geronimo said he was never a chief, he was a military leader. As a Chiricahua Apache, this meant he was one of many people with special spiritual insights and abilities known to Apache people as “Power”. Among these were the ability to walk without leaving tracks; the abilities now known as telekinesis and telepathy; and the ability to survive gunshot (rifle/musket, pistol, and shotgun). Geronimo was wounded numerous times by both bullets and buckshot, but survived. Apache men chose to follow him of their own free will, and offered first-hand eye-witness testimony regarding his many “powers”.

They declared that this was the main reason why so many chose to follow him (he was favored by/protected by “Usen”, the Apache high-god). Geronimo’s “powers” were considered to be so great that he personally painted the faces of the warriors who followed him to reflect their protective effect. During his career as a war chief, Geronimo was notorious for consistently urging raids and war upon Mexican Provinces and their various towns, and later against American locations across Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas. -Wikipedia.org

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5. John Ross

John Ross (October 3, 1790 – August 1, 1866), also known as Guwisguwi (a mythological or rare migratory bird), was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Native American Nation from 1828-1866. Described as the Moses of his people, Ross led the Nation through tumultuous years of development, relocation to Oklahoma, and the American Civil War. At the age of twenty, having completed his education and with bilingual skills, Ross was appointed as US Indian agent to the western Cherokee and sent to Arkansas. He served as an adjutant in a Cherokee regiment during the War of 1812.

With them he participated in fighting at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend against the British-allied Creek tribe.  Ross then began a series of business ventures. He derived the majority of his wealth from cultivating 170 acres (0.69 km2) in Tennessee worked by twenty slaves. In 1816 he founded Ross’s Landing and ferry. In addition, Ross established a trading firm and warehouse. In total, he earned upwards on one-thousand dollars a year. After Ross and the Cherokee were removed to Oklahoma, settlers changed the name of Ross’s Landing to Chattanooga. -Wikipedia.org

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4. Chief Pontiac

Pontiac or Obwandiyag (c. 1720 – April 20, 1769), was an Ottawa leader who became famous for his role in Pontiac’s Rebellion (1763–1766), an American Indian struggle against the British military occupation of the Great Lakes region following the British victory in the French and Indian War. Historians disagree about Pontiac’s importance in the war that bears his name. Nineteenth century accounts portrayed him as the mastermind and leader of the revolt, while some subsequent interpretations have depicted him as a local leader with limited overall influence.  

The war began in May 1763 when Pontiac and 300 followers attempted to take Fort Detroit by surprise. His plan foiled, Pontiac laid siege to the fort, and was eventually joined by more than 900 warriors from a half-dozen tribes. Meanwhile, messengers spread the word of Pontiac’s actions, and the war expanded far beyond Detroit. In July 1763, Pontiac defeated a British detachment at the Battle of Bloody Run, but he was unable to capture the fort. In October he lifted the siege and withdrew to the Illinois country. -Wikipedia.org

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3. Sequoyah

Sequoyah (circa 1767–1843), named in English George Gist or Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith who in 1821 completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. This was the only time in recorded history that a member of an illiterate people independently created an effective writing system. After seeing its worth, the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825. Their literacy rate rapidly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers. -Wikipedia.org

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2. Tecumseh

Tecumseh (March 1768 – October 5, 1813), also known as Tecumtha or Tekamthi, was a Native American leader of the Shawnee and a large tribal confederacy that opposed the United States during Tecumseh’s War and the War of 1812. He grew up in the Ohio country during the American Revolutionary War and the Northwest Indian War, where he was constantly exposed to warfare. His brother Tenskwatawa was a religious leader who advocated a return to the ancestral lifestyle of the tribes.

A large following and a confederacy grew around his prophetic teachings. The Native American independence movement led to strife with settlers on the frontier. The confederacy will eventually move farther into the northwest and settle Prophetstown, Indiana in 1808. At Prophetstown, Tecumseh confronted Indiana Governor William Henry Harrison to demand that land purchase treaties be rescinded. Tecumseh tried to unite Native American tribes in a confederacy throughout the North American continent.

While he was traveling to convince other tribes to join the movement, Tenskwatawa was defeated in the 1811 Battle of Tippecanoe.  During the War of 1812, Tecumseh’s confederacy allied with the British in Canada and helped in the capture of Fort Detroit. The Americans, led by Harrison, launched a counter assault and invaded Canada. They killed Tecumseh in the Battle of the Thames, in which they were also victorious over the British. Tecumseh has subsequently become a legendary folk hero. He is remembered by many Canadians for his defense of the country. -Wikipedia.org

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1. Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull, (c. 1831 – December 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man who led his people as a war chief during years of resistance to United States government policies. Born near the Grand River in South Dakota, he was killed by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him and prevent him from supporting the Ghost Dance movement.  

He is notable in American and Native American history for his role in the major victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn against Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment on June 25, 1876, where Sitting Bull’s premonition of defeating the cavalry became reality. Seven months after the battle, Sitting Bull and his group left the United States to Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, where he remained until 1881, at which time he surrendered to US forces. A small remnant of his band under Chief Waŋblí Ǧí decided to stay at Wood Mountain. After his return to the United States, he briefly toured as a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.

After working as a performer, Sitting Bull returned to the Standing Rock Agency in South Dakota. Because of fears that he would use his influence to support the Ghost Dance movement, Indian Service agent James McLaughlin at Fort Yates ordered his arrest. During an ensuing struggle between Sitting Bull’s followers and the agency police, Sitting Bull was shot in the side and head by Standing Rock policemen, Lieutenant Bull Head (Tatankapah) and Red Tomahawk Marcelus Chankpidutah, after the police were fired upon by Sitting Bull’s supporters.

His body was taken to nearby Fort Yates for burial, but in 1953, his remains were possibly exhumed and reburied near Mobridge, South Dakota, by his Lakota family who wanted his body to be nearer to his birthplace. However, some Sioux and historians dispute this claim and believe that any remains that were moved were not those of Sitting Bull. -Wikipedia.org

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